IT is fair to say that Warrington Wolves’ Joe Philbin has had a busier lockdown than most.

Juggling the arrival of your first child during a global pandemic with keeping up the fitness levels that being an elite sportsman demands would be enough for anyone to cope with.

But the Wire forward has somehow found time to set up his own business as well.

The 25-year-old and his partner Laura Buckley welcomed firstborn son Bobby Ray into the world in early April.

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And despite being thrown in at the deep end while unable to receive hands-on help from the grandparents, they are finding their feet in the terrifying world of parenting.

Philbin said: “It was difficult at the start because we literally weren’t allowed to see anyone – we got handed our first child and we were a bit like, ‘what do we do here?’.

“We were FaceTiming the life out of our parents and getting advice off them, but as lockdown went on we found our own way of doing things.

“And I never would have normally got that three-and-a-half months of quality family time, so it has been a blessing and a curse.”

With a regular fitness routine to maintain while the Super League season was paused, you might not think there was much time left in Joe’s schedule.

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But he has also been building for his future after rugby by setting up sportswear company Gripz, producing an ‘innovative’ grip sock.

The Wolves academy graduate added: “That’s kept me nice and busy, with a few Zoom calls here and there.

“I think I’d have gone crazy if I had months doing nothing.

“Lockdown has been good for me, I’ve learnt a lot of lessons and I’ve got a little plan together for what I want to do post-rugby.”

For now though, it is back to business on the pitch.

And the Great Britain international believes that he and his teammates have returned to training in great shape.

Philbin said: “I’m excited to be a rugby player again – I was champing at the bit to get back into training.

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Philbin before Warrington Wolves' last game, a win at Hull FC

“Just being back with the lads is brilliant, that’s the best part of my job – the banter is flying back and forth.

“We’re all best mates, we’re like brothers really, so being back and having that comradery is brilliant.

“A lot of the lads have come back even fitter than when they left, we’ve really looked after ourselves.

“I think the staff were pretty blown away, because usually on the first day back at pre-season everybody is a bit chunky and looking like they’ve ate a bit too much.

“It’s a big credit to the lads, everyone has had a big dig and I think that could go a long way to helping us have a good second half of the season.

“It has been a bit weird with all the restrictions in place, and we’re just getting used to this new Covid-19 world.

“But obviously we understand why we’ve got to do it, and we respect it.”

Super League’s new ‘six again’ rule will be a test for the big men up front, but Philbin thinks that Warrington have a secret weapon in order to take advantage.

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Joe Philbin and Daryl Clark training during lockdown

He said: “It’s going to be a fit man’s game.

“With this new rule, the people who can perform when their hearts are beating out of their chests are probably going to come away with the chocolates.

“We’ve got one of the best weapons in the world out of dummy half with Daryl Clark.

“I wouldn’t like to be defending six again with Daz coming at you 100mph after a quick play of the ball.

“I think it will benefit us with some of the pace we’ve got in the side, but we’ll have to make sure our ruck control is very tidy.”