Super League Heroes – Shaun Lunt

10
Jul
Category: Heritage

Super League Heroes – Shaun Lunt

Shaun Lunt was born in Cockermouth, Cumbria in April 1987. He started to play rugby in a team started by his father in response to pleas from his elder brother Robert. From there Lunt had a short spell in rugby union, before joining Ellenborough Rangers for a couple of years before, having by then ambitions to play professionally, joining Hensingham RLFC, who attracted attention from the professional sides.

It was Castleford who first came in for Lunt, and in his first year with them he played in the Tigers Academy Grand Final-winning side against St Helens. The following year he played a handful of games in the Tiger’s first team before being sent on loan to Workington. After three good years there, in which he twice won the National League Two Young Player of the Year, he still had Super League dreams, so he made a DVD of his performances and sent it to Huddersfield. His enterprise was rewarded with a three-year contract from 2009. After making a try-scoring debut, he went on to score 15 tries in 19 appearances, as the Giants finished third in Super League and reached the Challenge Cup Final, in which he scored a try in a 25-16 loss to Warrington. The following year, he was picked for England’s Australasia tour and won a first cap against the Aussies in Melbourne. After a strong second season, his career at Huddersfield seemed to be petering out, so he asked to go out on loan. He was rather surprised when Leeds came in for him, and was delighted to go on a one-year loan to Headingley.

In 24 appearances for the Rhinos, Lunt played in his second Challenge Cup Final, again losing to the Wolves, but then played in the Rhinos’ Super League Grand Final win over the same opponents. He returned to Huddersfield in 2013, with enthusiasm and form restored, and had a great season, winning the League Leaders’ Shield and earning a place in the Super League Dream Team.

Two seasons later, again out of favour at the Giants, Lunt joined the Robins on loan, making a two-try debut in a 50-20 home win over Catalan in March 2015. Lunt figured in all but one game in Rovers’ Challenge Cup run that year, scoring a crucial semi-final try against Warrington, and making a third Cup Final appearance – sadly, again finishing on the losing side. But in his first season with the Robins, Lunt made 20 appearances and scored seven tries, earning a four-year contract at Craven Park from 2016. Unfortunately though, the 2016 season ended in disaster for the Robins, as they lost in the most heartbreaking circumstances to Salford in the end-of-season ‘Million Pound Game.’ Lunt was one of a core of senior players who pledged their loyalty to the Robins, and he was rewarded when new coach Tim Sheens gave him the club captaincy.

In 2017, Lunt played a full part in helping the Robins to achieve promotion back to Super League, making 27 appearances and scoring 13 tries. 2018 was a difficult season for him, a few niggling injuries restricted him to 16 matches, and by the end of the season, he was aware that something was not right. He was taken to hospital that September and was eventually diagnosed as having blood poisoning following an infected spinal abscess. After winning his life-threatening battle with sepsis, Lunt returned to the Robins’ side in an away game at Huddersfield the following March, but he made only seven appearances that season, the last of these being in the 22-20 Magic Weekend victory over Salford. After one more game, Tony Smith replaced Tim Sheens, and arranged a swap deal that took Lunt back to Headingley with Matt Parcell coming in the opposite direction.

In all, Shaun Lunt made 86 appearances for Rovers, scoring 31 tries. He was always a busy figure around the ruck, utilising his pace off the mark in darting through gaps to create openings, and bringing his tam-mates into the play with his shrewd distribution. When on form, Lunt was invariably involved in Rovers’ best moments; but even when things were not going his way, he never shirked, he was solid in defence and his work-rate was an example to his team.

At the end of the 2019 season, Lunt was told that he would not be offered a new deal by the Rhinos. By this time, his Super League ups-and-downs, and his serious illness, had taken a lot out of him, resulting in mental exhaustion. He decided to take a new direction, utilising the plumbing skills he had gained before becoming a full-time professional, in a full-time job, and joining Batley Bulldogs in 2020 to play for the sheer enjoyment of it.

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