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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Tributes pour in for brave rugby star

WATH Brow Hornets have paid tribute to their ‘inspirational’ young player, Andrew Jones, who died after a long battle with cancer on Tuesday.

By Helen Thompson and Mark White

Hornets coach Ian Rooney said everyone at the club was devastated and that God now had a ‘special fella’ following the death of the 26-year-old.

Rooney spoke highly of the prop forward who began his career in the junior ranks at Hensingham and also had a spell with Whitehaven RL. “It is devastating for everyone,” said Rooney. “Anyone who needed any inspiration to play sport or to do the things you want to on a rugby field, should look at Andrew. The amount of times he got knocked back with information about his illness and yet he just soldiered on.

“In all the time I have know him he has never been anything but a gentleman. I have never once heard him whinge about what he had, he would just fight whatever battle was on his plate at that time.

“He always gave 110 per cent and has been fantastic since coming to us. He was a big loveable lad, and you never heard him say a bad word or get mad with anyone.

“He was just a great all-round bloke and this will be a sadder place with him going.

“He signed for Whitehaven when he was younger and when he was at his peak there were a lot of pro clubs watching him, he had a lot of talent.”

Rooney said his enthusiasm for the game never waned, adding: “Everyone at Wath Brow will never forget him, he has simply been a legend for us. Even when he couldn’t play anymore he wanted to still be a part of the staff. He had so much will and drive, with a heart the size of a lion. For a young lad to go though what he did for a third of his life yet he fought with so much dignity.

“I would have been scared stiff but he never showed any of that. He has a great family and our thoughts are with them.”

At the age of 19, Andrew, affectionately known as ‘Pobs’, was fit, healthy and lived for playing rugby league with Whitehaven – until, on the verge of his senior debut, he was suddenly diagnosed with testicular cancer.

His Haven team-mates banded together a couple of years later to brave icy waters in the town’s harbour in aid of Andrew as he continued his battle.

And the club paid tribute to his determination and courage over the years, saying: “Everyone at Whitehaven RL would like to pass on our condolences to Andrew’s family and friends at this sad time.

“Andrew was a lad who lived for rugby league. He joined Haven Academy after playing for Hensingham Juniors, and was part of the club’s successful youth and reserve teams, a lad who was totally committed to succeeding in his rugby career.

“Even when he became ill Andrew was determined not to let it stop his involvement with the club. This courage and determination were an example to all.”

Andrew was the son of Alison and the late Barrie and step-son to Tony. He also leaves behind a brother and sister, Lee and Linzi.

Tributes have poured in across rugby league circles.

Bradford Bulls star and former Brow junior James Donaldson said: “Gutted to hear the news of the passing away of @Pobsy87! Fought it to the end and never complained! You’ll be sadly missed pobs! X”

And former Haven team-mates were quick to add their messages, among them Carl Sice and Gregg McNally, now with Leigh, who said: “Sad to hear the news about Pobs. Thinking bout all his family. Was a pleasure to play with such a determined man #RIPPobs”

A funeral service will be held at St John’s Church, Hensingham, 2.30pm on Tuesday. Donations can be made to Ward 34 at the Freeman Hospital or to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Have your say

A truly amazing young man who showed nothing but courage, dignity and bravery through it all.
Rest now. Love Gillian. Xxxx

Posted by Gillian Raine on 23 May 2014 at 10:43

Never new jobs personally but know Ian Rooney and Lee power seen there comments looks like he could be an inspiration to others R.I.P

Posted by Mark Stafford on 23 May 2014 at 02:33

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