In his first full season with Dewsbury Rams, prop Toby Everett says he is loving life at the club, and looking forward to going into battle against one of his former teams, when the Rams face London Broncos on Sunday.
The 22-year-old played an important role in the win over Sheffield on Friday, and the Farnborough-born forward is pleased to see the team make a positive start.
“It was a tough opponent to have for our first game,” he said.
“They are a good side, who gave us a good test on the night, but it was great to get the victory over the line.
“First half, we did really well, and I thought it was some of the best rugby we have played in a long time.
“Unfortunately, in the second half, fitness might have told a little bit and we lost our way.
“They got on the front foot and scored some soft tries in our opinion, and they were disappointing ones for us to concede.
“We have really worked on our defence in pre-season, and the players have taken on that responsibility to hunt for the ball in groups.
“We were really strong through the middle on Friday, and that was pleasing to see, and we made sure they had no room to manoeuvre up the middle of the park.
“A lot of teams did that to us last year,” Everett added.
“They came hard and fast through the middle of us, and so this season we have worked on that in training, and you could see that it was coming together on the pitch.
“We went in at half-time knowing we’d done well, but we expected a reaction from them, their coach was obviously going to get into them at half-time, and so we were ready for them to come out and really go for it.
“And though they did come back at us, one of the big positives is that we were able to battle against a good team and get the win over the line.
“In the past, we would have let a game like that slip, but this year we are tougher, and working on our defence will certainly help.
“I thought my performance was good,” Everett added.
“I know what I need to work on going forward and that is something I have spoken to Neil about.
“I have put what he has told me into training this week and hopefully as the season progresses I’ll get better and better.”
Everett spent three seasons at the Broncos, rising through the club’s academy and finally making it to first team level, where he played more than 20 games for the club.
As he prepares for Sunday’s match, Everett can reflect on fond memories of his time in the capital, and says that he has a lot of respect for head coach Danny Ward.
“I loved my time there,” he said.
“To be involved in such a club at the age of 16 was a brilliant experience.
“I rose through the ranks and then cemented my first team spot. I have made a lot of friends at the club and it’s a club that is close to my heart.
“Danny was my academy coach at under 19 level, and I really got on well with him. He helped me a lot in my younger days and developed my game.
“He has it all, to be honest. When your head was down, because you weren’t getting played, he would come over to me and give you a nudge in the right direction.
“Then he had that side to him where if you did something wrong he would pin you in a corner and give you what for!
“That’s what you need sometimes when you become complacent, and when you need a kick up the backside.”
Everett says he’s expecting a tough test from the Broncos, who started their season with a comprehensive victory over Barrow Raiders last weekend.
“They are a very good side, and there is a real emphasis on us in the middle to work hard and match that platform that we laid against Sheffield in the first half.
“If we do that then Gaz Moore and Paul Sykes can go on to create the tries we need.”
Victory for the Rams on Sunday would represent an excellent start to the campaign for the players, and Everett is optimistic that Dewsbury can surprise their critics.
“I think the best thing we can do is not to listen to anyone else and just concentrate on what we can do,” he said.
“We want to start early, settle in well, and really show what sort of rugby we can play at this club.”
Finally, having arrived at The Tetley’s Stadium during the closing stages of 2017, Everett says he’s really enjoying his time with the the Rams.
“Everyone made me welcome, and that was big thing for me,” he said.
“The people were so nice and kind and then I started to really enjoy my rugby, and I found myself in the team pretty early on.
“Sometimes it’s hard to come in halfway through a season, but I didn’t find it hard at all coming into the Rams.
“My mum and dad travel up to watch me play and the fans have made them so welcome too, which is brilliant.
“Everyone is a lot friendlier up here than they are down south that’s for sure.”
Following Sunday’s game, Everett says he’ll once again relish the opportunity to chat with the Dewsbury supporters in the Royal Suite.
“It actually shocked me how nice everyone was, and the sort of conversations I’ve been able to have in the bar after the games.
“I haven’t been used to that from my time at other places – we usually just went straight home after matches.
“But here you get to speak to the fans afterwards and get their thoughts on the game, which I think is fantastic.
“It really is a great thing to see. The fans, players and staff are all one at this club.”