HE may have initially broken into the Wire team as a second-rower, but Joe Philbin thinks his transition into a fully-fledged prop is complete.

Warrington-born Philbin, who played his junior rugby for Latchford Albion, made his first-team debut in 2015 and spent most of his time on the edges.

However, he impressed many last year with his impact from the bench in the front row in a pack that was often shorn of options.

Once again, he was used as an interchange prop in the 16-12 opening-day loss to Leeds and looks set to play that role again at Huddersfield Giants tonight, Thursday.

Philbin says he now considers himself as a prop rather than a second-rower.

“I think I play my best football as a prop,” he said.

“It’s good to have second-rowers as a back-up if there are injuries, but I do see myself as a middle player now.

“We’re stacked with international quality. Even the lads that aren’t capped internationally are quality players.

“We have a really strong pack. I’m challenging myself against some of the best around.

“That’s only going to make me a better player.”

Philbin enjoyed a productive 2017, making 29 appearances for The Wire before representing Ireland at the Rugby League World Cup.

He admits he now feels more a part of the first-team picture at Warrington now.

Philbin also acknowledges, despite featuring in all three of Wolves’ pre-season friendlies and the opening Super League game, he will have a fight on his hands to keep his spot in head coach Steve Price’s team as the season goes on.

“I feel a lot more established as a first-team player than this time last year,” he said.

“It was a big year for me in 2017 having played plenty of games, but obviously the team didn’t do as well we wanted to.

“I want to build on that and hopefully we’ll have a better year collectively. Hopefully, I will play a big part in that.

“I want to compete to play every week. I’m sure the rest of the forwards here will be the same.

“Nobody in the pack is safe. No-one can rest on their laurels thinking they will play week in, week out.

“We all push each other in training and we’re all challenging each other. That’s how you improve as a player.”