WARRINGTON Wolves prop and besotted new dad Joe Philbin has told how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on him and girlfriend Laura Buckley welcoming Bobby Ray into the world.

Their 4lb 15oz son arrived at Warrington Hospital three-and-a-half weeks early on April 3 and both mum and baby are in good health back at home in Great Sankey.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

Hometown hero Joe, who scored crucial tries in the run to Wire winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley last August, has revealed his joy of fatherhood, his pride in Laura battling through much of the labour on her own but some heartache, too, with the UK lockdown meaning Bobby is yet to be cuddled by his grandparents and wider family.

Warrington Guardian:

“Both Laura and Bobby are absolutely fine. He’s just eating everything in sight, he’s a hungry baby,” said the 25-year-old Great Britain international.

“In the circumstances, everything went as well as it could.

“Obviously they’ve got to consider the safety precautions at the minute with what’s going on.

“For me, there was a lot of twiddling of my thumbs at home and sending myself mad in my head. With him coming three-and-a-half weeks early it was a bit of a worry.

“It’s Laura who I felt sorry for as, for the first time, she had to go through one of the hardest things a woman goes through mostly on her own and it wasn’t nice but I’m so proud of her.

“But everything’s turned out perfect and I’m probably that little bit more grateful now to have them home safe."

He did eventually get called in to be at Laura's side for the point of Bobby's birth.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

Now he's getting stucking in with helping Laura to raise Bobby in these difficult times of a UK lockdown and self isolation.

“We’re learning on the go, which is fun. We’re ‘Facetiming’ our parents for advice every other minute.

“He was 4lbs 15ozs which is pretty small but he’s packing on the weight now. I can see him growing every day which is a good thing.

“I was nervous before fatherhood, thinking I love my sleep – I’m a stickler for a good eight hours unbroken, but that’s gone out of the window.

“It’s just so worth it though, I absolutely love it.

“I’m doing my bit. I was always saying ‘I hope you know I’m not doing nappies and stuff’ but I’ve found I don’t actually mind doing them. I’ve found a little niche, and I didn’t think I’d be saying that. I think when it’s your own you don’t care too much.

“The hardest part, because babies grow up so quickly as well, is the grandparents missing out on these precious early moments. So that’s horrible.

“We’re trying to Facetime them and get videos to them as much as we can to make them feel like they’re here.

“It probably wasn’t a great time to bring a child into the world, as babies can easily catch infection, so we’ve got to be so careful with him.

“We’re sticking to the guidelines and doing the right thing. Hopefully it will all be over soon and we’ll be able to introduce him to all the family. He might be bigger than he is now when he meets them all.”

Warrington Guardian:

Of course approximately nine months ago Joe and Laura had no idea what the world would be facing at this time.

“We’re pretty much in the dark, it’s the unknown for everyone, the only thing is that everyone’s going through it together,” he said.

“I’m sure we’re all feeling it. We won’t be feeling sorry for ourselves because there’s people out there catching the virus and fighting it in the NHS. They’re the real heroes in all this and we’re just trying to raise our little child in peace.

“The positive side of it for me, and it’s always nice to take the positive out of things, is that I am not missing out on any of these precious moments and getting a lot of time to bond with my little family while I’m not at training, although I am itching to get back with the lads and be back out on the field for matches.”

“It’s hard when you are in your routine of wanting to better yourself every day at training and that gets taken away from you. But the positive side is that I get to bond with my little family.”

When the pandemic is over Joe plans to pin the primrose and blue colours to Bobby’s mast, so to speak.

“He came a month early, we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl or what size, so unfortunately he doesn’t have a Wire kit yet and now all the shops are shut down.

“I’m sure that’s the first thing I’ll be doing when I get anywhere near the HJ, I will be kitting him out.”