After being released by Wigan as a youngster, Joe Bullock needed to do a lot of soul searching to make it as a rugby league player.
The Blackpool-born man left the Warriors back in 2012 as a winger and spent some time with South Wales Scorpions and Leigh Centurions, before ending up at Barrow Raiders.
Bullock made over 120 appearances in five seasons at the Raiders, scoring 21 tries. It was at Barrow where he made the transition from the wing into the middle of the park as a front-rower.
And the front-rower, nicknamed ‘The Bull’ for obvious reasons, caught the eye of a number of Super League clubs while at the Raiders, but he decided to commit to Wigan for three years from 2019.
“Wigan was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Bullock told loverugbyleague.com.
“I’ve done quite a lot of years in the lower leagues and found myself as a player, so when this chance came it was something I was really keen to take up. It’s been a good pre-season and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in this year.
“A lot of hard nights and tears went in to trying to find myself as a player!
“I was 19 when I left Wigan, so I was still young, and I had to find myself and where I wanted to be and that was part of my journey.
“It was a really good experience going to different clubs. I’ve been at Leigh and Barrow and I’ve played at different levels and I found my feet at Barrow and it’s brought me back to this point now where I’m ready to give it a really good push as a Super League player.”
— Joe Bullock (@JoeBullock27) February 2, 2019
Bullock has played in all three of Wigan’s games so far this season, starring in Wigan’s opening day defeat to St Helens as well as helping Wigan beat Leeds Rhinos.
The Lancastrian even tested himself against the best in Wigan’s World Club Challenge defeat to Sydney Roosters.
“I’d like to play every game possible but I’m not stupid, I know I will have to fight for my place,” Bullock added.
“People in this squad have been performing for so many years but if I can perform well then there is no reason why I can’t play in the big games. Look at Gabe [Hamlin] and Romain [Navarrete] last year, they fought for their place and stayed there as a reward for their good performances.
“Wigan have always had a formidable forward pack and big defence and I think I’m well suited and prepared for it because the Championship is a really grubby, horrible place at times.
“The Championship has got some big lads and its slower, especially when you have to go up the hill at Batley. I’ve improved loads since I first left Wigan, I’m now ready for that physicality and I’m ready for mixing it up with the best in Super League.”