FORMER Oldham St Annes prospect Olly Russell is extending a proud family rugby league tradition.
The ex-Saints youngster is the third generation of the Russell clan to play senior grade after his recent Super League debut for Huddersfield Giants against Widnes Vikings.
Olly’s grandad, Jimmy, is an ex Huddersfield player while dad Richard made 125 appearances for home-town club Oldham.
He also played for Wigan and Castleford while winning England honours.
Olly’s uncle Phil Russell also played for Bradford Northern.
Now the 19-year-old half back is keen for more first team exposure this season after his top-flight bow at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Olly, a one-time Saddleworth School pupil, didn’t score in the 28-18 success over Widnes but earned plaudits from caretaker coach Chris Thorman.
“He (Thorman) said that it was a great debut for me,” explained Olly.
“My main task was to talk a lot and I felt I did that.
“So, he was chuffed with me and I was chuffed with the win as well.
“I was nervous, but I don’t think it’s the most nervous I have ever been.
“It was exciting and I had this weird feeling inside of me, something I’ve never had before.
“I started to settle though and get to grips with the speed as it’s much different to the 19s,” added the Giants’ Academy playmaker.
“I was getting to grips with the speed but after 10 minutes, well the first kick off really, your nerves go and you play your game.
“Obviously, my grandad played for Huddersfield so to step out on there, with him looking down on me, it was a class feeling.”
Russell, an England youth international, didn’t feature in Huddersfield’s Challenge Cup victory over Wakefield as former Man of Steel Danny Brough returned from suspension.
However, the red-haired teenager is grateful for the opportunities he has been given so far:
“Luke Robinson is the best coach I’ve ever had really,” explained Olly.
“He’s the same position as me and I’ve never learnt so much off a single person so credit to him.
“He’s done a lot for me. People like Chris (Thorman), Andy (Kelly) and Robbo have a lot of faith in us. To anyone really if you have faith, they’ll do the job.”
After starting his career at St Annes, Olly joined Wigan on a two-year scholarship.
“I played a full year in the U19s Academy with Wigan and played in the Grand Final but then left to join the Giants U19s,” he said.
“I’ve loved my time with the Giants and I am really enjoying my rugby again, I’ve got my love for the game back.
“The main part of my game is kicking and passing, I need to work on running the ball a bit more but leading is another part of my game now which I feel I do quite well.”
Thorman, who has since handed over the head coaching reins to Australian Simon Woolford, said of Olly’s debut: “I thought Olly was composed and astute and stuck to the plan as much as an academy half-back could have done.”