WHEN Robbie Mulhern signed for Warrington Wolves, he said being around two of the best forwards in the game – Chris Hill and Mike Cooper – would be good for his development.

But the Yorkshireman did not expect one of them to become his landlord as well as an influencer.

Being able to rent a home off one of his teammates has helped with a speedy settling in process that can only help prop forward Mulhern get the new chapter of his career off to a successful start.

The 26-year-old, captured on a two-year deal from Hull Kingston Rovers as one of three new Wire signings for 2021, is delighted with the arrangement as well as putting an end to the travelling over the Pennines twice each day for training.

“I’m loving it. I've settled in really quickly," said Mulhern, who has one senior international cap to his name and has previously played alongside Warrington's Jack Hughes, Tom Lineham, Toby King, Joe Philbin and Danny Walker on the 2018 England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea.

"You’re always a bit anxious going to a new team especially one with not many new signings because everyone’s already got really good friendships.

"But as soon as I walked through the door, all the coaches and players were great with me.

"I’m getting on really well with people and there’s a really good atmosphere around the place.

“I was travelling to training for the first few weeks but it was just too much so I moved over.

“I was living in Pontefract in West Yorkshire and it was taking me about one hour and 20 minutes each way which isn’t bad, but there was nothing on the road due to lockdown. When everyone’s going back to work I was thinking it would be two hours minimum.

"There was no chance I would be doing that every day."

His new front-row rival Hill offered him the chance to rent a property he has in Golborne.

“It was a bit of a chance thing really. I was just talking to some of the lads and telling them a house I was buying had fallen through and I think Chris overheard," said Mulhern, a Leeds United football fan who has a passion for the planet's environment and is currently studying the subject at open university.

"Chris said to have a look at it. I went the next day and I think it was a week later I moved in so it all fell right pretty quickly. I'm renting off Chris short-term until I can find somewhere to buy."

Mulhern has joined Warrington because he wants to take his career to the next level, in terms of his own performance as well as increasing his chances, he feels, of being part of a team that can win silverware.

And he has already noticed the gear change in training, compared to his previous experiences with Hull KR and his first pro club Leeds Rhinos.

“Pre-season campaigns are all sort of similar in a way, but this is definitely the toughest I’ve done," said Mulhern, who revealed his sporty father played for the Great Britain Firemen rugby league team before he joined the Paratroopers.

“Luckily I kept myself in good nick over the off-season so when I came in I could hit the ground running but the standards of the fitness on all the boys is ridiculous.

“I think what's made it the toughest is just the volume and the intensity of the training, the amount of running we have to do, the distances and the intensity of it.

"It’s really full on, but we get really well managed – it’s not just like a flogging every day. The conditioners are really switched on with it and it’s been a really good pre-season which leaves us well placed.

“I think as well because there’s only been three new signings and the main core of players still here, it always helps with the consistency for the next year, especially with the same at halves, hooker and full-back. This bodes really well for the coming season too.”

Living nearby has helped him between training days by providing him with the time for recovery, to continue with his studies and to get in some relaxation.

And he has discovered that he shares a topic of interest with new teammate Ellis Robson.

“I’m at university as well at the minute, studying geography and environmental science," he said.

"It’s a bit of a coincidence, I was talking to Ellis the other day and he’s doing the exact same course but I’m just a year in front of him.

“I’m doing it part-time. It’s going to take six years and I’m only in my second year so I’ve still got a way to go but I enjoy it and I’m quite passionate about it.

"I thought it was good to do something with my time after training rather than just watching tele and doing nothing.

"It’s mainly so I can get a degree behind me for when I stop playing but I’m really interested in that field so if I could get a job after rugby doing anything with that I’d love it.

“I’ve not really looked into the potential jobs it could lead to, but it could take me all over the world because there’s that much going on with the environment.

"Anything in general with the environment is becoming a real hot topic and I think over the next 10 to 20 years it’s only going to be getting more and more popular with more jobs created.

“I try and do a couple of hours studying per day. The luxury of the rugby is that we don’t work as long as most people do in a day so I have quite a bit of time to do it. If I’ve got a deadline coming up I might need to do a bit more, but usually two hours a day.

"Pre-season is quite a draining time, so typically at the minute I usually get in from training, make a bit of tea, do my uni work and then I might just watch a bit of tele or read – I'm a big reader.

"It’s been very chilled at night for me especially with being in lockdown, which has probably been good for my uni work because I haven’t got an excuse not to do it.

"When everything opens up I’d love to get out with the lads, but for the moment it’s very chilled like it is for everyone.

“The lockdowns haven’t been bad for me. I’m one of them people who quite enjoys my own company, whereas I know some people love to be out and about.

"There’s been some days where it’s been a bit harder than others. But I’ve coped alright and I’ve been quite fortunate really with still being able to go training as well. It breaks up the days, whereas for people who have been stuck in all day it must have been awful for them so the sooner everything opens the better.”

So what does he want to get out of this first year with Warrington?

“I’d love to win something," he said.

"No disrespect to KR, even though everyone wants to win something it was never really on the agenda there.

“Coming here with the squad we’ve got, there’s a big chance we could win something.

“And to be part of a first Warrington team that wins the Grand Final would be amazing.

"That’s the goal really for everyone in the team, to win something, but especially the Grand Final."

The last 15 months or so of his time at Hull KR was under the guidance of ex-Wire head coach Tony Smith, whose influence on Mulhern's career replaced that of former Australia national team boss Tim Sheens.

“I got on with Tony," said Mulhern.

"He had a lot of good ideas with attacking flair. He tried to get us all believing which I think he did at KR and I think he got us playing some really nice stuff.

“When I signed for Warrington he was one of the first people to ring me up, congratulate me and wish me all the best.

"And he said if there was ever anything I needed from him he’s always there which I thought was a really nice touch from him.”

Mulhern spent five years with the Robins, having initially followed his ex-Leeds teammate Jamie Peacock to east Hull.

After an enjoyable stint on loan in the Championship with Hunslet Hawks in 2015, Mulhern felt he was not going to get the game time he was looking for the following season at Headingley.

"I didn’t really watch that much rugby league growing up but then when I started playing I was a bit of a Leeds fan," he said.

"When I watched them on the tele they had the best players, like Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kev Sinfield – they were the household names and even people who didn’t follow much rugby knew about them.

"So to make a name for myself at Leeds, one of the big clubs, was something I really wanted to happen.

"But towards the end I knew I wasn’t really going to get a chance. I’d sort of got my head around it and I was ready for the move.

"Luckily for me, that was Jamie Peacock’s last year at Rhinos and he was going to be head of rugby at KR so he was the one who mentioned it to me and said if I wanted to go to KR there was space for me.

"Also luckily, when I signed my contract at Leeds I had a clause in it saying that if I wanted to leave at the end of the year I could and a fee didn’t have to be paid for me.

"So I exercised that option, which was pretty good for me to put that in my contract because I think a lot of lads get stuck sometimes whereby they wanted to move teams but the team was demanding a £15,000 to 20,000 fee for an academy player which obviously a lot of teams aren’t going to pay.

"So it was pretty good that I had that clause in. It made the move really simple."

He had been on the radar of another professional club before joining Leeds as a youngster.

And his performances caught the eye quite quickly after starting out in the game a little later than some who go on to become professional.

"Growing up, I used to play a lot of football and a bit of rugby union," he said.

"When I went to high school in Featherstone it’s like a rugby league hotbed. The school team was a rugby league team so I just joined them.

"After a couple of years I joined one of the amateur sides, Castleford Panthers, and then after that I had a couple of years at Normanton Knights, who Ben Westwood played for.

"It was after my first year at Cas Panthers that I got picked up by Wakefield Trinity for their scholarship. After a year there I went to Leeds Rhinos Academy and I stayed at Leeds until I was 21 and made the move to KR."

He was very pleased with what he achieved at Hull KR, which included a promotion-winning 2017 campaign when he felt he learnt so much alongside new prop signing Nick Scruton.

“I think in my first year I played quite a few games with the first team, but we got relegated and I had the opportunity to leave but I thought it was a better option staying," he said.

“Under Tim Sheens we signed a lot of good players and Nick Scruton came in and he really helped me a lot. I learnt off him really.

"I think that year playing pretty much every week in the Championship was good for my development and I kicked on from there really. I got to play for England while at KR, so I was really happy with my time there."

Now he is looking forward to pulling on the primrose and blue jersey with his family watching from the stands.

“My mum and dad pretty much watch me every game and then my brothers come when they can, so I can’t wait for them to come and watch me playing for Warrington the first chance they get," he said.

“So much time given has been given up by mum and dad with the rugby, so I don’t think I’d be where I am without them.

“It has made me realise how lucky I am because some people don’t have that support and relationship with their parents.

"I suppose at the time you don’t see it, you just sort of expect your parents to do those things for you, but then when you do get a bit older and you start realising the time and effort they put in.

"It’s unbelievable what they have done for me and both my brothers so I’ll always be incredibly indebted and grateful.”