AT this time of year, most Super League players head off for some winter sun but Ryan Shaw is instead having a crash-course in rugby union and preparing to drive a fork-lift truck following his move to Yorkshire Carnegie.
The prolific winger only started training with the club last week after his cross-code switch but debuts in Sunday’s Championship opener against Bedford Blues at Emerald Headingley.
I had about 10 days off after leaving KR and went up to Scotland in a big camper van so there wasn’t too much winter sun for me.Ryan Shaw
Given he has not played union before, he is having to learn quickly but is relishing the challenge and opportunity provided.
Carnegie, of course, have moved to a part-time operation for 2019-20, having hit major financial troubles earlier this year.
One of the club sponsors – Leeds-based packaging company Marpak – have employed Shaw, who is an impressive goal-kicker, and he told The Yorkshire Post: “I’ve never worked a day in my life so it’s not going to be easy!
“I’m grateful to get the chance, though, and I’ll be starting that soon. It will be a bit different driving fork-lifts and things like that.
“It’s great to be joined up now with Carnegie as well.
“I had about 10 days off after leaving KR and went up to Scotland in a big camper van so there wasn’t too much winter sun for me.
“But I’m back and straight into things at Carnegie and I have been enjoying it.
“With being part-time, we only have a couple of sessions per week, so they are very intense; everything’s on the field, and it’s sharp and we’re straight into things.
“It’s hard getting rid of old habits – I’ve looked to get back 10 metres a couple of times – but it’s very enjoyable and the lads have been great with me.”
Cumbrian Shaw, 27, has been undergoing personal tutorials with Carnegie player-coach Joe Ford, the former Leicester Tigers fly-half and brother of England star George.
“I’ve been doing a lot of video work with Joe,” he said.
“It’s more about looking at positioning and things like that.
“They see me as a winger but maybe playing outside centre later on. We’ll see how it goes.
“I’ve watched our games back and it’s been quite timely that the Rugby World Cup’s been on, too.
“I’ve always taken an interest in union even if I’ve never played it before. About five years ago, before I went to Bradford Bulls, I did think about making the switch but it never came off.
“It’s always been at the back of mind since and, especially when I started kicking well these last couple of years, I started thinking about it more.”
Shaw started at Warrington Wolves but never played a first-team game and, instead, made his name with home-town Barrow.
That eventually led to a move to Bradford where an excellent 2015 campaign saw him earn a deal with Hull KR. Shaw scored 47 tries in 81 appearances for the Robins and established himself as one of Super League’s best goal-kickers.
Carnegie, under director of rugby Martyn Wood, have had to quickly assemble a squad for the new campaign after all last season’s first-team squad departed.
They have played three games in the Championship Cup, suffering three heavy defeats: 83-0 at Nottingham, 48-0 at home to Cornish Pirates and then 50-7 at London Scottish.
Clearly, then, avoiding relegation is the primary aim this term.
But Shaw insisted: “When we’ve been doing the reviews, there are still plenty of positives.
“The squad’s only been together a short space of time but everyone is pretty confident.
“They’re all decent lads and, though it’s hard for me to make a judgement on the rugby as I’m new to this, I know there’s a real enthusiasm about what we’re doing here.
“I left KR on good terms and will still be a Rovers fan but I’ll be playing for Yorkshire Carnegie.”