I’m a lifelong rugby league fan, but despite living in Wigan I am captain of Warrington Wolves. It’s made for an interesting dynamic and the Warrington stickers I had on my car were pulled off!
I’ve been selected to represent Ireland in the Rugby League World Cup. I’m half-Irish and half-English, but my Irish identity is stronger – I’ve always supported Ireland in everything I’ve done. Being selected to play for Ireland is a dream come true.
Preparation for this World Cup has been tough but it’s gone well. It’s a lot of hard work. We’re going to be playing three games in six days when usually you don’t play that many games that close together. We face Spain on Thursday 3 November, Australia on Sunday 6 November, and England on Wednesday 9 November.
Spain in the first game will be hard. There’s no footage of them playing for the last two years, so that’s going to be interesting.
All three opening games are in the Copper Box in London, which from what I understand is sold out. It’s an iconic venue and should be a fantastic experience. We’re expecting an unbelievable atmosphere and hopefully we can rise to the occasion and come away with the win. You have to stay positive, but you never know what the day will bring.
We’re going to be live on the BBC website and Red Button for our first two games with the third match, against England, going on BBC Two.
I’ve been doing a lot of endurance work to train: getting in the chair, pushing a lot, doing as much as I possibly can to build up stamina and strength.
I’ve been working extremely hard to prepare for this schedule. I’m training five or six days a week and I work full-time! I work, then I go to the gym for two hours, then I come home, and might do some more training in the evening.
We’re feeling confident. The core of the team has been together for about two years, which as far as wheelchair rugby league goes is about the middle of the park length-wise. Other countries have had more time together, and others have had less. We’ve been through a transitional phase – people retire, you get new players in – two years isn’t massive but is a decent amount of time, and overall we’ve done what we wanted to achieve.
I’m a winger. If I stood up, I’m 6’2”, so when I sit in my chair I’m tall and am one of the quickest players in the league. My height gives me the opportunity to catch the ball very high and push very fast as well as distribute the ball into the court.
As a team, what we do really well is: it’s more like a family than a team. When we get together, we socialise afterwards, we don’t just get together train then go home. We have a good level of banter, we complement each other really well and come from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines in previous sports, and that brings us together.
Ireland isn’t famous for Rugby League, it’s more Rugby Union over there, so for us to highlight the sport on a global scale is amazing. It’s a massive event for everyone.
It’s something that I’m massively looking forward to but also apprehensive! It’s going to be broadcast live on TV so we obviously need to make sure we do everybody proud! It’s an amazing opportunity.