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A catch up with Callum Phillips

Saturday 23rd February 2013

A catch up with Callum Phillips Story in brief:
Callum talks to Richard de la Riviere.....
Callum Phillips has shown that the step up from the amateur game to the professional game's Kingstone Press Championship isn't unbridgeable and believes there are plenty more young players in the Cumbrian amateur set-up who could make the transition.

Callum's brother, Brett, made the same journey 12 months ago and was one of Town's best players as they gained promotion from the Championship. The second rower ended the season playing for Scotland. Although Callum has been pitched in at an even higher level, he has responded superbly, and was named man of the match as Workington won their opening game of the season, away at Swinton. He has continued to deputise for the injured Graeme Mattinson since.

"It's a lot more physically demanding," Callum said. "You feel sore for longer and every game at this level is challenging. I watched most of the home matches last year and Brett did really well last year right from the start. I know I've come in at a higher level but I know no different so maybe it's better going into straight into the Championship.

"There are a few good lads around the amateur game who could easily make the step up like Sam Forrester, who is scoring tries for fun at Maryport, but I suppose the opportunities in the amateur game like tours have stopped people coming professional.

"Now Town are just one division below Super League that should change. Not a lot of people around here get a shot at Super League but might fancy their chances of getting spotted in this division."

Phillips can play hooker or in the halfbacks and realises he might have to take on a new role when Mattinson - who was absolutely outstanding for the club last year - is fit.

"I was happy with how I went against Swinton and I'm trying to improve," he said. "I can imagine Graeme will be right back in when he's fit but it will be great to learn from someone like that. I prefer playing hooker and I've enjoyed it recently. It's more of an individual position and I'm still young for a halfback although there are a lot of similarities between the two."

Sheffield Eagles, the reigning champions, are the latest visitors to Derwent Park and will be mindful of how well Workington competed against Halifax a fortnight ago. Workington took a first-minute lead, and dominated the early exchanges before Halifax came back to win 20-8.

"I'm really looking forward to playing Sheffield as it will be a big test," said Phillips. "They are one of the best teams in the league but they'll not enjoy coming up here. I thought we did well against Halifax, getting a bonus point against a team like that. We could have won it but we made some mistakes and they capitalised.

"We have a massive pack and you can tell Ewan Dowes and Jamie Thackray are experienced players. I've learned a lot from them and it makes you feel more confident playing alongside players like that.

"The fans make a big difference too. The atmosphere at the Halifax game was great and even when we play away it really helps the lads when there's 200 or so Town fans making a lot of noise.

"We've got a good side here and we could be aiming for the play-offs, we have a good enough team, it's just a matter of putting it together every week."

Interview by Richard de la Riviere.

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