Jake Bradley, one of the brightest prospects to emerge from west Cumbria in recent years, has signed for Whitehaven.

Bradley, 17, became the club’s youngest player as a trialist when he scored on debut last March at the Recreation Ground against Hemel Stags.

Some of the most knowledgeable men on the local game have predicted a big future for the Hensingham amateur who has turned down Super League interest to sign a three-year contract with his hometown club.

When Bradley scored on his first appearance for Whitehaven he was only aged 16 years and 330 days but he has been kept under wraps since then, continuing his development in the amateur game.

On his debut Bradley played for Haven on the wing but has been operating in the pack while on duty with the England Lions squad in August.

Whitehaven’s new head coach Gary Charlton said he was delighted that young Bradley had chosen to start his professional career with the club.

He said: “In Jake we think we have one of the best up-and-coming rugby players from around this area.

“He has all the attributes to become a top player and it’s great to see he has picked Haven over a few bigger clubs that he had the chance to go and play for.

“Although Jake is young in years he has the physical attributes of a man, with plenty of strength and power.

“It’s good to see that these young players want to come and play at their local club and I am sure Jake has a bright future ahead of him.”

Bradley admitted he was happy to be joining Whitehaven and excited about the future.

He said: “I’m happy to be in a squad which is full of local talent and I’m excited about the season which lies ahead.

“Like a lot more of the lads I can’t wait to get stuck into pre-season and I’m glad to be back down at the Recreation Ground.”

Club chairman Tommy Todd added: “It goes without saying we are all delighted that Jake has decided to join us.

“There has been a lot of interest in him, and understandably so because he’s one of the best prospects we’ve seen for a good while.

“He’s already established a record with us – of being our youngest player – and we look forward to seeing him pass a few more milestones over the next three years.

“The club would like to give a massive thank you to our Vice Presidents group for help in securing Jake’s signature.

“That support, as well as all the other ways they help the club, is much appreciated.”