20th April 2020
Before I came to London, the only time I’d ever been away from the farm where I grew up was when I spent six months in France with Villeneuve. The people down there were so laid back. Nobody was in a rush. It was quite refreshing.
Looking back at Villeneuve, I wish I’d taken in more of the culture. Now I say to players coming down to London: ‘Jump right in, feet first. Embrace it. Enjoy it.’ We’re playing rugby and we’re representing London at Rugby League! I live with my girlfriend, Elle, and all the players live within a five-mile radius, which makes it even more special.
We’re playing rugby and we’re representing London at Rugby League!
There’s always something to see or do in London – tourism, shows, gigs, festivals. I went to see Hamilton a few weeks back, I’ve seen Coldplay and Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium. I like my gigs… Foals, The Snuts, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Courteeners, Arctic Monkeys. There’s always a gig to go to. And the one-day festivals are outstanding.
This is my fifth season down here. I’m acclimatised now, but it was a massive shock at first. Penistone and London are polar opposite. London rush hour is horrendous!
My mum and dad (Cath and Stephen), and my older brother Robert, used to be dairy farmers but they diversified. The business is now called ‘Snowden Hill Water Buffalo’. They go to farmers markets and supply the restaurant trade.
Penistone and London are polar opposite. London rush hour is horrendous!
Growing up on the farm, I’d be milking cows, feeding calves, bringing the cows back from the field with my mate Ben the sheep dog, mucking out or muck spreading. There were times I couldn’t play out with my mates, but that’s just how it was. They were good times and I love going back.
I’m still best mates with five or six of my childhood school friends. We all grew up around Penistone, Oxspring and Snowden Hill, which is where I’m from. We speak most days. They’re into football and cricket rather than rugby. Three of us are big Sheffield Wednesday fans. My dad and granddad were too. I try to get to Wednesday’s games in London or when I’m back home. Beating Hartlepool 4-2 in the League One play off final in 2005 is unforgettable.
Football is my favourite other sport, although I’ll watch anything. One of the Broncos sponsors once invited me to the darts at the Alexandra Palace and I’ve been three or four times now – usually in fancy dress. We’ve been Christmas-themed, dressed like monks and priests, and gone as Mexicans wearing ponchos – although we were one poncho short and I ended up dressed as a banana!
We’ve been Christmas-themed, dressed like monks and priests, and gone as Mexicans wearing ponchos – although we were one poncho short and I ended up dressed as a banana!
The people I admire from other sports are the ones who have the drive to get right to the top, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. People like Bradley Wiggins, who have personality as well as ambition.
Because I was always into football when I was younger, I didn’t start playing rugby until I was about 14. I was at school with Sam Swire, whose dad, Ian, was the chairman of Sheffield Eagles. It was Sam who got me into rugby. I joined Hillsborough Hawkes and loved it, and after a scholarship with Doncaster Lakers, I eventually arrived at the Eagles. Coach Mark Aston helped me a lot; he still does. And Andrew Henderson and Danny Ward have brought my game on a lot down here. You learn something from each coach.
As a full-time player now, I have a bit of time on my hands during the season, so I’ve started a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Sport, Fitness and Coaching with the Open University.
As a full-time player now, I have a bit of time on my hands during the season, so I’ve started a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Sport, Fitness and Coaching with the Open University. Distance learning works well around here because the travelling is such a nightmare and it’s something, I’d definitely recommend it to other players.
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