Hull FC dreamland for ex-Skirlaugh brickie Jamie Shaul
SOMETIMES, dreams really do come true – just ask Jamie Shaul.
A Hull FC devotee who followed his idols home and away, Shaul has swapped the terraces for a place in amongst the Black and Whites' first-team squad.
Now training alongside the likes of Kirk Yeaman, Richard Horne and Richard Whiting, Shaul admits to having to pinch himself in his early days at training.
But now he is fully focussed on making his mark and forcing his way into the side.
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"I've followed Hull for years, home and away, I went to every game,"Shaul told the Mail.
"To go from that to be training alongside players I'd recently been paying to watch from the stands, that takes a bit of getting used to.
"It did feel really weird going in to training and working alongside the first-team players, but you slowly get used to it. All the lads have been really good with me and made it easier for me to settle in."
Two months on from starting his one-year professional deal, the 20-year-old former David Lister student has settled in well.
Having swapped his bricklaying apprenticeship for his Hull career, the young full-back is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
Having started his career at hooker with the Skirlaugh Bulls as a junior, he switched to half-back and then to full-back, and has always been earmarked as a star in the making.
Last year, his performances for the now defunct Hull under-20s side alerted Hull head coach Peter Gentle to his promise.
Knowing it was a make or break year, Shaul says winning a contract was always the intention.
"I knew it was going to be my last year in the under-20s so I had been aiming all year to get a first-team contract," he said.
"When they spoke to me and offered the deal I was buzzing, really over the moon. It's what I've been after since I started playing, so it was amazing to get that pro contract."
A specialist full-back, Shaul is a rare commodity in Hull's squad with first-choice Shannon McDonnell the only other specialist in the key position.
That would put him in pole position for a call-up should injury strike.
However, he accepts the reality is that first-team action is more likely to come at York, Hull's partnership club in the Championship.
"My goals for the year are to play as well as I can and hopefully I can make my first-team debut. I know it will be tough, but hopefully I can get some games at York also," he said.
"It is a really good standard of competition and I'd love to get my chance there.
"I've spoken with Peter Gentle about the things I need to work on, but I feel I can offer something and I'm looking forward to the year ahead."