Why Hull KR new boy Frankie Halton is benefiting from being in a full-time environment

NOW THAT he does not need to worry about the rigours of holding down a full-time job and playing rugby league, Hull KR’s Frankie Halton is relishing the chance to prove he can make it in Betfred Super League.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 21/03/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup Round 1 - Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls - Millenium Stadium, Featherstone, England - Frankie Halton.

NOW THAT he does not need to worry about the rigours of holding down a full-time job and playing rugby league, Hull KR’s Frankie Halton is relishing the chance to prove he can make it in Betfred Super League.

The hard-running second-row joined the Robins from Championship part-timers Featherstone Rovers in the autumn and is thriving in a full-time environment.

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He was playing at amateur level for Leigh Miners Rangers as recently as 2018 but now the 25-year-old is intent on showing what late developers can achieve.

Being able to concentrate purely on the sport is clearly aiding his development as he continues preparations ahead of next month’s Super League kick-off.

“It is just nice to have that one thing to focus on,” Halton told The Yorkshire Post.

“I am loving it at Rovers. All your focus is on eating, training, sleeping, getting in shape and looking after yourself.

“It takes away some of the stress that you have when you’re going to a job, training on a night and not getting home until late and having disrupted sleep.

Bags of experience: Hull KR coach Tony Smith and assistant Stanley Gene - himself a Robins playing legend. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I was a mechanical design apprentice when at Fev last year.

“It was a nine ’til five job but I used to go in early so I could finish at half four and get over to Fev on a night for training.

“I’d get to Fev about half five, stay there until eightish and get home near ten o’clock so it’d be a long day. When you do extra gym sessions on top of that in the morning it can take its toll.

“Now it’s nice to have that intense training in the day knowing you can relax at night and get your body ready for the next day.

“I am enjoying it. I’m feeling good and ready to get going against Dewsbury next week.”

Halton, who starred with Swinton Lions before joining Featherstone, hopes to make his KR debut in the friendly at a club he faced in his Championship days.

Head coach Tony Smith has never been afraid of plucking talent from the second-tier and the KR chief has also brought Dewsbury forward Tom Garratt into the ranks for 2022.

Halton admitted: “He’s definitely getting the best out of me.

“You’ve got Tony but there’s three great assistant coaches underneath him as well in Dave Hodgson, Danny McGuire and Stanley Gene who have all helped me massively since I arrived.

“They’ve helped me on the little finer details that a lot of people might not pick up on, whether it’s in defence or attack. I’m continually learning and trying to get better and they have all been great.”

Halton hopes to be the latest success story from the Championship following in the footsteps of players such as England forwards Alex Walmsley (Batley Bulldogs) and Chris Hill (Leigh Centurions) as well as Ireland team-mate James Bentley who shone for Bradford Bulls before winning a Super League title with St Helens. He knows he has plenty of competition for a spot with 2021 Dream Team member Kane Linnett, the improving Luis Johnson and experienced Dean Hadley all offering Smith options.

But Halton explained: “I want to try and get a few games early doors, make an impression and hopefully stick in there.

“We’ve got these pre-season games coming up and I just want to put my best foot forward.

“Hopefully, if I can get a Super League game early in the year, I can impress and try and keep a place in the 17. That’s the goal.”

Halton almost earned promotion with Featherstone, just missing out when they lost the Million Pound Game against Toulouse Olympique in France.

He recalled; “Even though we didn’t win, it was a great experience. There was so much we could take from that in terms of hopefully going into more big games in the future.

“I missed out on Fev’s Wembley trip earlier in the year due to Covid so I was itching to get to that Championship final.

“Going over to France, even though it was not the result we wanted and it’d have been nice to get promoted with what was a special group, we could still take a lot away from the game in terms of the intensity and playing on such a big occasion.”

Instead, he will look to help the Robins build on last year’s exploits when they surprised many by getting to within just 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final.

And, to think, it was only a chance meeting that saw him return to professional rugby league.

Halton recalled: “When I was 18, I was playing for Leigh Centurions reserves but, when they were pushing for Super League, they canned the reserves team.

“I ended up going on loan to North Wales Crusaders but I didn’t really like that at the time so that’s why I left semi-pro rugby and went back to play with Miners for a few years.

“I was working in a different job as an apprentice pipe-fitter and Stu Littler, the Swinton coach, asked me if I wanted to go play for them.

“But I couldn’t as I was working away so often. A year later, though, I saw him at the wedding of Andy Bracek who used to play at Warrington.

“I had literally just left that job so I went up to Stu and said is it alright if I still came down to Swinton. That was the end of 2018 and it all went from there.”