A talented teenage rugby league player from Nelson has been snapped up by Wigan Warriors after an impressive season playing at scholarship level.

Hamza Ayaan Butt, 16, a student at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, is believed to be the first player from a British Asian background to sign for the club.

Hamza, has earned a formidable reputation as a powerful running centre and goal kicker, having been identified by scouts playing amateur age-group rugby.

He was brought into the Wigan youth system at the age of 15 after some impressive performances and has gone on to dazzle coaches in the cherry and white colours.

Hamza began playing rugby league with West Yorkshire side Keighley Albion at the age of seven, before moving to play at famous amateur club Wigan St Patrick's and also Leigh Miners Rangers.

Hamza also played rugby union at Burnley RUFC, but it looks like his future could be in the 13-a-side code.

Hamza, hails from a sporting family and said he had been inspired by his uncles and family friends.

Asian Image: England star Herbie Farnworth, from Blacko, is Hamza's heroEngland star Herbie Farnworth, from Blacko, is Hamza's hero (Image: PA)

They were amongst the first Asian players to take up the sport in the seventies and were said to be guided by Brian Foley OBE.

Prior to his retirement, police officer Brian Foley coached many players and mentored Blacko's Herbie Farnworth, who now plays for the Brisbane Broncos in Australia's NRL and starred for England in last autumn's Rugby League World Cup.

Recently, Hamza not only managed to watch his hero, Farnworth but got the opportunity to train with him.

Hamza said: "My parents wholehearted dedication in supporting, encouraging and motivating me has totally inspired and influenced my rugby league aspirations."

The sporting pedigree appears to have been passed through generations as Hamza’s late grandfather, Fiaz Ahmed Butt, taught Hamza special exercises, used by the famous World Wrestling ‘Pehlwani’ champion, Ghulam Mohammad Baksh also known as ‘The Great Gama’.

This was done to build up his physique and stamina.

Asian Image:

Proud father Noushad, who is a director at Nelson based 3B Systems, said: “Hamza appreciates the fantastic opportunity that has been given him. 

"However, we all realise this is just the first step on a huge ladder, and we will be there to support Hamza in every possible way.”

Hamza was in the Blackburn Rovers junior football system and has represented his school at many different sports, most recently appearing in the National Handball finals in Nottingham. 

He will be hoping to graduate from Wigan's esteemed academy system which has produced countless professional and international players in recent years.