Joe Bullock: Winger turned prop now thriving after a career of hard knocks

Joe Bullock had his own song during his time at Barrow Raiders.

“He’s big, he’s ginger, he used to be a winger,” was one of the most commonly heard chants on the terraces of his old stomping ground at Craven Park.

You wouldn’t believe it looking at him now, but the entire song is factually correct.

The 26-year-old earned his move to Wigan as a result of his rampant performances down the middle of the pitch in the Championship.

However, the now powerhouse prop-forward started his career as a speedster on the books at the Warriors.

“I was actually a fullback when I started,” he said.

“I got into the England Community Lions setup and I got pushed to the wing. That’s where I sat and got picked up as a winger by Wigan.

“But at 18 I started to fill out and my body posture changed. It was the end of me really, I got slower when everyone got faster.

“When I was in the U20s there was Joe Burgess and Lewis Tierney coming through, so my days on the wing were over there.”

Like many up-and-coming talents, Bullock was cut adrift at a crucial time of his development, and at a point when he was being forced to evolve as a player in a foreign position.

Bullock landed in the Championship with Leigh, but more adversity was to come.

“After leaving Wigan it was disappointment after disappointment to be honest.

“I left Wigan as a winger and went to Leigh in a different position, which was really difficult at a young age with a new club.

“I moved into the middle and I got a bit of success, but Leigh got a lot of money and built a squad of Super League players. I got pushed aside and went to Barrow.”

However, his move to Cumbria proved to be the making of his career.

“Joining Barrow was the best thing that happened to me.

“I went to a club where I was wanted, where I played under a great coach who taught me different ways to play. Paul Crarey got the best out of me and got confidence back into my game.

“I grew as a player there and really got to grips with playing at prop.

“It’s a huge difference to the wing, obviously, but it’s helped my game because I think. I’m quite an athletic and dynamic prop so that side of it helped me retain some speed and power. It’s probably why it has taken me a few years to find myself but I’ve got there now.”

Bullock returns to Wigan as a different player in a different position but also a different person.

His change in position is evident, but he believes the adversity he has faced since leaving and returning has been equally important.

“I had knock back after knock back but it’s probably helped me in the long-run.

“I’m not in the backend of my career but I have come into Super League later that a lot, so I appreciate the opportunity I’ve got here. I know where I’ve come from and I want to take it with both hands and have a crack at it.”