“I was ready to join the Army” How Tyler Dupree was nearly lost to the game

Drew Darbyshire
Tyler Dupree England SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Salford powerhouse Tyler Dupree is set to make his England debut this weekend less than three years after almost quitting rugby league altogether.

Dupree has enjoyed as stunning rise to the top of the rugby league food chain.

The 23-year-old has revealed that he came close to walking away from the sport in 2020 after being let go by Super League giants Leeds without making a first team appearance.

Although it was a bitter pill to swallow, Dupree didn’t sulk about it. He put in hard graft on a building site and was given a chance to play part-time with Oldham in the Championship.

“Being let go by Leeds was quite a low point in my life,” Dupree told Love Rugby League. “I wasn’t the happiest of people so I was ready to give rugby league up.

“I was ready to the join the Army but I got a message on Twitter from one of the Oldham coaches saying ‘we’ll meet you for a coffee and we’ll have a chat if you want’.

“It just went from there, I liked what they were about. They helped me enjoy my rugby again. I know the results didn’t go our way but I just enjoyed being in that group and it made me think that I would miss it if I gave it all up. I put the work in away from rugby, I was training consistently.

“Honestly, I wasn’t the most unsociable person ever! I started work on a building site at first, then I’d finish work to go to the gym or I’d finish work on site to go to training. I never really made any time for my friends or relationships or anything like that.

“Because I knew it (rugby) was what I wanted and I put the important stuff behind because I wanted to play rugby and I wanted to make a good career out of it. I don’t regret anything I’ve done.”

From the Championship to Super League

Dupree was a standout forward in the Championship during his season with Oldham in 2021, scoring 10 tries in 18 appearances.

Unfortunately, the Roughyeds suffered relegation that season and subsequently, Dupree joined Widnes.

The front-rower, who hails from Halifax, only played seven games for Widnes before being handed a full-time opportunity in Super League with Salford midway through last season.

Dupree has excelled with the Red Devils, and has become a regular starter in Paul Rowley’s side this term.

“Salford have been massive for me,” Dupree acknowledged. “I’m always going to be grateful to the club.

“I’ll be a lifelong fan regardless of where I’m at or if I’m still playing or anything.

“Especially the coaches, they took a chance on me and took time to work with me and have helped me.

“I knew I could be a good player, I just needed someone to give me the chance and to tell me I could be that player. They’ve helped me massively and have kept me grounded on the way.”

England debut awaits Tyler Dupree

Dupree’s powerful displays for Salford saw him called up to the England Knights squad last autumn.

And this year he has gone one better. He will make his debut for England’s senior side on Saturday when they take on France in Warrington.

“It would mean the world (to make my England debut),” Dupree said.

“It was something I wasn’t even thinking about 12 months ago, but I feel like it has all just come together at once.

“I can see how it important it is to everyone and it rubs off on everyone.

“I’m excited to do the country proud. I know there has been a little bit of backlash about the squad that has been picked about it being a young squad but I think as a squad we want to prove what we can do it and that we are the future and hopefully the fans get behind it.”

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Making mum proud

Dupree finished the interview by paying tribute to his mother, saying he wouldn’t be where is now without her.

“My mum has been supportive of any decision I make,” Dupree ssaid.

“She was the one who convinced me to stick with it. She told me to go for the meeting (with Oldham) to see where it went. They could have offered me no money and I would’ve taken it because I wanted to give it another shot.

“She always said ‘if you want to dedicate yourself to it, then I’ll support you, whether that be financially or emotionally’. Thankfully, she didn’t have to financially but she was always there, she was my rock.

“Whenever it was tough, she was always there to remind me why I’m doing it. We’ve made a little bucket list in regards to ticking things off when it comes to rugby now. She’s been massive and I couldn’t do it without her.”

England face France in the international double-header in Warrington on Saturday. The women’s test gets underway at 2pm, followed by the men’s at 4:30pm, both live on Sky Sports.

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