JOE Philbin is confident more of Warrington Wolves’ under 19s squad can follow in his footsteps and play in the Super League.
The 19-year-old made his second first-team appearance from the bench in Wolves’ 72-12 win over London Broncos on Sunday.
Wolves’ under 19s are flying in the Academy League and with King brothers George and Toby also making their debuts in recent weeks, Philbin insists there is more to come.
“They’re having a really good season and I’m sure there will be about five or six more to come through,” said the forward.
“It’s really good for us lads to come in and for the next ones who come through – there are a lot more to come, trust me – it’s good for them to all see that we are getting a chance.”
Local boy Philbin admits it was a dream come true to break through at Wolves, having played his junior rugby at Culcheth Eagles and Latchford Albion before joining Warrington, aged 16.
And three years on, the experienced players in Wolves’ squad are helping make the transition from the academy to Super League an easy one.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” added Philbin. “I’m a home-town lad and to come through and then to get a few games I couldn’t dream of a better first season.
“It’s been quite easy with the squad at first-team level, with the international class like Joel and Michael Monaghan.
“They’re really good, they ease you into it and talk to you and make it an easy step up.
“I’ve learned so much more in this year with the first-team than I have in five years before. It’s been a big eye-opener for me.”
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith has shown he is happy to blood home-grown youngsters in the first team.
But Philbin, who picked up a hip injury on his debut against Hull KR earlier this season, knows it remains a gradual process.
“I got a knock on my hip at Hull KR so I had two weeks off, but it felt really good coming back and I enjoyed getting back out there,” explained the teenager.
“He (Smith) said he doesn’t want us to get long-term injuries from playing against fully grown men week in, week out – but he said he’s not scared to give us a chance and he’s shown that.”
Heading into the business end of the season the youngster is looking forward to gaining more senior experience, and to possibly seeing the club lift some silverware.
“I’m hoping to get few more games under my belt, the more the merrier really, and just keep helping the boys out,” he said.
“Hopefully they can go on and win the Grand Final.”