Jamie Foster has revealed how he fell out of love with rugby league when he called time on his playing days at the age of just 26 – and explained how a phone call to his beloved grandfather convinced him to link up with old friend Leon Pryce at Workington next season.
Pryce’s first signing as head coach of the Cumbrian club was a surprise move, convincing former St Helens team-mate and Hull winger Foster out of retirement to resume his career in League 1.
In an exclusive interview with TotalRL, Foster admits he had come to terms with life after playing – before explaining why the respect he had for Pryce, as well as the nudge from his grandfather, forced him to lace the boots up again.
He said: “When I started at St Helens, it was similar to starting playing football at Manchester United – everything is downhill from there, with no disrespect to anyone else. I was playing in a Grand Final as a young kid and nothing tops it – life didn’t get much better than that. Quickly though, things can go sour, and if I’m being totally honest, I just fell out of love with rugby league.
“Not playing, I had a lot of weekends free and my Granddad, someone who I’m really close to, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I love taking him out and doing things like going to the races together because you never know how much time you’ve got left together – but after Leon rung, it was my Granddad who told me to get playing again.
“He said he would love me to get playing again, so that swung it. It’s not a financial decision as I’ve got businesses on the go outside of rugby – it’s about enjoying it again, and I think I can enjoy it with Leon and Workington.”
Foster also believes that, after speaking with Pryce a fortnight ago about returning to playing, he is joining a coach who could be set to change things for the better in Cumbria.
“It had to take someone who I had so much respect for to convince me to play again,” Foster said.
“When I left school and started training with St Helens, I always remember Leon being such a motivator at the club. I want to play for him, I know the lads at Workington will want to play for him when they get going and I know he’ll get everyone playing with a smile on their face. They will love working with Leon – it’s been enough to convince me to lace the boots up again
“I couldn’t imagine too many people who would have got me out of retirement but I’ve that much respect for him, it wasn’t hard. He told me his vision for Workington, how he wanted to change things and he sold it to me straight away.”
Foster also insists there is no financial motivation behind his decision to resume his career – saying he simply wants to repay those who have shown faith in him and get back to enjoying his first love.
“I’m buzzing to be back playing. I wrote a message on my Twitter six months ago about retiring, and it took me a week to go back on there and check the responses – it killed me. This is about getting back to enjoying playing and repaying Leon and Workington for the opportunity.
“I’ve not got a point to prove to anyone apart from myself and my family. I’m quite thick-skinned, I’m used to the grief – people telling me what my hair looks like, for example! As long as my coach and my family are happy, then I’ll be happy. I can’t wait to get started. Under Leon, I truly think something special can happen in Workington together. If I’d said no to him, I think I’d have said no to everyone.”