Callum Phillips has shown that the step up from the amateur game to the professional game’s Kingstone Press Championship isn’t unbridgeable and believes there are plenty more young players in the Cumbrian amateur set-up who could make the transition.
Callum’s brother, Brett, made the same journey 12 months ago and was one of Town’s best players as they gained promotion from the Championship. The second rower ended the season playing for Scotland. Although Callum has been pitched in at an even higher level, he has responded superbly, and was named man of the match as Workington won their opening game of the season, away at Swinton. He has continued to deputise for the injured Graeme Mattinson since.
“It’s a lot more physically demanding,” Callum said. “You feel sore for longer and every games at this level is challenging. I watched most of the home matches last year and Brett did really well last year right from the start. I know I’ve come in at a higher level but I know no different so maybe it’s better going into straight into the Championship.
“There are a few good lads around the amateur game who could easily make the step up like Dan Forrester, who is scoring tries for fun at Maryport, but I suppose the opportunities in the amateur game like tours have stopped people coming professional.
Phillips can play hooker or in the halfbacks and realises he might have to take on a new role when Mattinson – who was absolutely outstanding for the club last year – is fit.
“I was happy with how I went against Swinton and I’m trying to improve,” he said. “I can imagine Graeme will be right back in when he’s fit but it will be great to learn from someone like that. I prefer playing hooker and I’ve enjoyed it recently. It’s more of an individual position and I’m still young for a halfback although there are a lot of similarities between the two.”