Warrington forward Joe Philbin says 2020 was a “year of growth” for himself and is hungry for that to continue this year.
The 26-year-old has just signed a new four-year deal with with his hometown club, having made 136 appearances for the Wolves so far.
Philbin, who is included in Shaun Wane’s latest England squad, wants to become more of a leader with Warrington moving forward.
He said: “Back when I was a young lad coming through I looked up to players like Bennie Westwood, Ben Harrison, Adrian Morley, Garreth Carvell – I aspired to be like them so I’m delighted to sign a four-year deal heading into my prime years.
“I’ve spoken to Pricey (Steve Price) and that’s obviously a (leadership) role that I can take more seriously now and I can have more of a voice in the team.
“I can show a pathway of progression for younger players that if they do the right things and work hard then they can go all the way through the system and become a senior player.
“I just want to be really consistent in everything that I do. I want to put in good performances consistently for Warrington and obviously there’s a World Cup at the end of the year and I want to be in that 24-man squad so I’m going to do everything in my power for that to happen.”
Philbin reflects on 2020 with plenty of positivity, with him and his girlfriend Laura becoming parents to Bobby Ray.
He said: “Fatherhood is treating me very well and I think having more responsibilities has been good for me.
“It has probably taken a load off my rugby as well because you can sit thinking about rugby 24/7 whereas I’m too busy to be thinking about rugby 24/7 now and that has been good for me.
“2020 will have been an awful year for so many people but I think the lockdown changed my mindset massively. With the mindset I’ve got now, I think it has been a blessing for me.
“I’m in such a better routine and I’m speaking with such positive people and bouncing ideas off people. I think 2020 was a year of growth for me and I want to continue that in 2021.”
Philbin and his good friend Jack Hodgkiss launched Gripz last year – a clothing brand that specialises in performance socks.
Gripz has enjoyed plenty of success already, with athletes from a range of sports donning the socks.
Philbin added: “We are really wanting to double down with our Gripz socks.
“We’ve been in contact with our manufacturers and we want to get some slight improvements.
“We are hoping to launch a new sock at some point in the near future and maybe look into branching out into the apparel scene as well so there are some exciting things to come. Watch this space.”
Listen to The Final Hooter podcast, featuring exclusive interviews, every week. SUBSCRIBE to Love Rugby League on Apple Podcasts.