Joe Philbin believes the events of 2020 should sharpen the focus of players to prepare for life away from rugby after watching his new business thrive during lockdown.
Philbin has launched Gripz, a specialist silicon-grip sock for sportspeople and athletes which minimises slipping and helps athletes perform better when they make sharp changes of direction.
The products were worn by a number of high-profile celebrities during the recent Soccer Aid match, and Philbin admits: “We’ve had break dancers, hockey players and even golfers get involved and use them.”
The 25-year-old is still, by age standards, some way off retirement. But he told League Express that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated his passion to prepare himself for life after his playing career finishes, and that all players should do the same.
“I’ve seen it all first-hand,” he said.
“Some people don’t plan for retirement, and I could go out next week and get an injury and have nothing to fall back on. I’ve always wanted to plan ahead and I’m conscious that if you go five years down the track, things could look very different.
“The last few months have really made me think about it more. Everyone has taken the hit, rugby players included, and it’s absolutely awful to see people losing jobs. That’s sharpened me up and made me realise it’s time to plan for the future properly. We should all think about it.”
Philbin continued: “I’ve had this idea for ages, but being full-time with rugby, you can get lost in the cycle of focussing on the next game and what you can do better. Lockdown, bizarrely, was good for me to get everything in place and it’s taken off really well. We got some of the people at Soccer Aid using them and hopefully the sky is the limit.”
Philbin is hoping to expand the Gripz brand in the coming months, but his immediate focus is on returning to playing next week after being one of several Warrington players who were required to self-isolate for two weeks.
That period came to an end on Sunday, and he will be available for the Wire again this week after four negative tests for Covid-19. He said: “It’s been awful, but the two occasions I’ve found excitement throughout the two weeks were when I was watching the lads play. The young lads have taken their chance superbly and it’s going to be tougher than some people think to get back into the team.”
Philbin’s new venture can be tracked at gripzofficial.com or at gripz.official on Instagram.
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