Extra Miles – Rochdale star Greenwood on combining his playing duties with his coaching role

This article was first published in Rugby League World. Want to read more articles like this? Get Rugby League World every month in stores or by purchasing online at totalrl.com/RLW.

Ask the majority of Rugby League players what they make of the build-up to the big kick-off, and you’ll get a negative response.

However, Miles Greenwood is an exception to the rule.

The new Rochdale man is the standout signing at the Hornets ahead of their return to the Championship, but his arrival comes with a twist.

Not only will the renowned fullback continue to bust defences and score tries aplenty, but he will also take up a new role with the club as the head of their strength and conditioning.

At the risk of becoming unpopular with his new teammates, Greenwood has been putting together training plans for the squad during the early weeks of preparation, who then suffer the strains of his regime together. But that doesn’t faze the 29-year-old, who also lectures in the profession away from his involvement in the game.

“I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that rugby doesn’t last forever,” Greenwood told RLW.

“I actually teach at Hopwood Hall College.

“I went there as a student and went on to Liverpool John Moores University. I was in the St Helens Academy at the time. I completed my degree and went to Halifax and was doing teaching alongside it. After a while, this opportunity came up and I grabbed it with both hands.

“I’ve always tried to look after my post-rugby career by getting some sort of qualification and while playing part-time I took the role on as a college lecturer.

“I always knew that you could get one bad injury and your career would be over, it wasn’t just the injury I got that kickstarted it, it’s always been in the mind.”

In the gruelling and demanding rigours of pre-season, Greenwood could be tempted to use his title as a way to sit out his own techniques. However, he insists on practising what he preaches.

As you might expect, Greenwood is something of a fitness fanatic. But his enthusiasm to partake in every session also boils down to darker times in his career.

In 2015, the fullback re-signed for Halifax after a super season with Batley in which he scored 22 tries in 25 games.

But, just four games into his Fax return, he suffered a career-threatening injury, suffering a double leg fracture in a game against Featherstone.

It took Greenwood over a year of rehabilitation before he was able to return to the field, in which time he learned to appreciate the enjoyment of training.

“I was told by a few doctors that could possibly be it and to concentrate on life after rugby.

“But I was determined to come back from it. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done physically and mentally. It takes a lot out of you, training in the gym on your own every day. You don’t feel part of the team, but Halifax were first class and I can’t thank them enough.

“I could take the easy way out now, but it’s not my approach, to be honest. If anything, I go the other way and make it difficult for myself.

“At the moment it’s working well and I’m certainly happy with it and I think the players are. They’re hitting good records in the gym which is a good sign.

“The lads are really accommodating of it. I’m part of the coaching staff and the playing staff at the same time.

“The way we actually structure it is that I put the plans in place and the coaches carry it through, so on that side of the fence I’m taking part in all the activities.”

Despite his importance to the coaching staff, Greenwood still has his sights firmly set on re-establishing himself as one of the top players in the division.

Although he made his return to action early last season, Greenwood was released by Halifax at the end of the season after scoring eight tries in 18 appearances.

However, having now signed for the Hornets ahead of their return to the second-tier, Greenwood admits he has no intentions to hang up the boots anytime soon.

“I’m looking forward to it, both on the field and off the field.

“I’ve had a good, solid pre-season along with all the group who have trained well, and I just can’t wait to start playing now.

“We’ve got a good squad, we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be tough as it’s probably the most competitive league, but it’s going to be tough for all of the teams.

“We’ll just have to wait and see, to be honest with you, but we’re training well and we are confident. But you can’t be sure until the season has started.”

“I had a sit down with Alan (Kilshaw) and he spoke to me about what he expected from me and the team. He invited me over to the facilities at Warrington which are really, really impressive, so that was another string to the bow, and it made me want to be a part of it.

“The strength and conditioning side of things are exciting, and at this stage of my career, I do need to be thinking and being more pro-active for when rugby finishes. It’s the whole package for me to be honest, and that is what got me excited.”