Tell us a bit about your rugby career to date.
It all started when I was 13, I got picked up for the Junior development squad at Leeds Carnegie and from there I worked my way up the ranks all the way to the senior squad. Throughout my career I went on loan to Wharfedale and Darlington Mowden Park in National 1, who I eventually ended up signing with for the 18-19 season. From there I played the most minutes in a season to this date and had a pretty decent year and got offered a 1 year contract at Exeter Chiefs. Fast forward a year and I’ve just resigned with Exeter for another 2 years which will take me to the end of the 2021-2022 season.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I think making my debut for Exeter in the Premiership Cup at the start of season would be one, to walk out at Sandy park for the first time it still gives me chills now hearing the tomahawk chop for the first time in person. But to top that I think I would be making my Gallagher Premiership debut at home against Sale Sharks in January this year.
You have also worked as a Chef de Partie alongside playing rugby. How did you found working in an work place environment compared to a rugby environment ?
During my time at Leeds I started working in the kitchen, very similar to rugby I started at the bottom and worked my way up, so I went from working as a Prep Chef, to running the appetiser & dessert section to then working the main course station and also running the pass. I thinking working also side my rugby really gave me time to switch off and forget about rugby from the moment I left the training facility which is what I think every player needs to do to just relax fully commit yourself to rugby when you are back in.
You have a Level 2 in Food & Hygiene. What was the thinking behind furthering your education?
During my time at Leeds the RPA was heavily influential in making sure we as players start planning for the end of our rugby career as early as possible because the reality is it can happen at any given moment! I knew I had a passion for cooking and wanted to start getting things in place so that I don’t struggle later on in my life.
You’ve been honing in your cooking skills over the last few months, what is your signature dish?
Lockdown gave me a lot of time to practise new things in the kitchen and even try my hand at a little baking. I love making dishes that take all day to make like slow roasts, slow cooked braised dishes so I think my favourite dish would be a classic beef bourguignon.
Do you think it is important for professional athletes to have an interest outside of their sport and what benefits can it bring to your game?
I mentioned it earlier but I think its very important to have something outside of rugby whether its another job like a family business or even just a hobby. It gives you time to forget about all the stresses that goes on at rugby and personally helps me refocus all of my energy towards rugby when I get back into the club.
If you could speak to your 18-year old self, what advise would you give him with regards to planning for life outside of rugby, both financially and professionally?
I would just tell myself to not be scared of making mistakes as that’s what we learn from the most and also to start even earlier. You can never be too early to start but you can definitely be too late!
With that in mind, would role do you think an agency should have in assisting with your development outside of sport, both professionally and financially?
An agency should help you with everything rugby related but a good agency will help you with everything in between whether that’s assisting you with help when you comes to buying your first house or car or even just helping you with maximising the amount you save a month. An agency can help you by expanding your networks inside & outside of rugby and all this is a massive part in preparing for a life after a rugby career.
And lastly, we’ve all been spending a lot of time at home recently. What film, series or book can you recommend to keep us entertained?
I think The last dance has got to be up there with one of my favourite things I’ve watched and even the book ‘ Eleven ring’ by Phil Jackson is a great read all on the Chicago bulls dynasty that changed basketball in the 90’s. Other than that I’ve just started watching Narcos so a little but late to the scene there but I’m pretty hooked on that.