Joe Philbin has become one of Warrington’s most consistent stars in recent seasons, but the 26-year-old still remembers making his debut for the Wolves at just 19 years of age in 2014 against Hull Kingston Rovers and he recalls the manic week leading up to that moment.
“I remember it like it was yesterday, it’s still the best feeling,” Philbin explains.
“I think we played Hull KR the week before in the Academy and I’d scored a few tries.
“Then I had a few missed calls off Tony Smith saying get into training you’re playing this week. That was how I found out and It was a really good moment.”
As a Warrington player born-and-bred, Philbin was at the core of the club’s Challenge Cup victory over St Helens in 2019. But, for the forward, memories of the year before spurred him and his team-mates on to glory.
“That was another superb achievement for me,” he says.
“The year before we’d played Catalans as heavy favourites and we fluffed our opportunity.
“We were hurting from that and when we got back to Wembley to play Saints, we were the underdogs that day and we had a real hunger and desire about us.
“It was great to come away with the victory and to get a try there was a brilliant feeling.”
For Philbin, his seven-year stint at the Wolves has dramatically changed him as a player from when he first made his breakthrough.
“I’ve come a long way since then – I’m a very different player to when I first started coming through.
“I was a backrower and a different style of player. I was a lot lazier and I didn’t really value the effort area as much as I do now. I like to think I’ve improved a lot since then.
“It’s been a good journey so far and I’m looking forward to the next few years.”
The rampaging forward is under no illusions that being a Warrington player comes with unwanted jibes from the rest of the Rugby League fraternity, but Philbin is hoping to use that as inspiration for both the Grand Final and the World Cup at the end of the year.
“My individual goals are always to improve on the year before. First and foremost, I want to be better than I was last year.
“But, there’s no getting away from the fact that at Warrington we’ve not won a Grand Final, so that’s obviously a goal, though I think if you asked every single Super League player that goal would be theirs as well.
“Winning the Grand Final and getting a spot in that 24-man England squad are what I want to achieve by the end of this year.
“I’m already in the England squad, so it’s just a case of building on it and ensuring I can represent my country.”
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