19th September 2017, 17:14
MEET THE TEAM: Phil Joseph
The latest player to feature in our series ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2017 is Phil Joseph.
Joseph, who has recently been named as one of Wales' two vice captains for the World Cup, started his professional rugby league career with hometown club Huddersfield Giants.
He had played in the academy sides at the John Smith's Stadium and made his Super League debut in April 2004 at the age of 21.
Phil in action for Widnes against Huddersfield
During his debut season with the first-team, the forward made 14 appearances in a team that narrowly missed out on the top six.
However, he moved to Swinton Lions, who were in League 1 at the time, for the 2005 season and played a key role, scoring an impressive 11 tries in 29 matches.
Due to his performances with the Lions, Joseph was given his first Wales call-up in the autumn and started at loose forward in European Nations Championship clashes with Scotland, Ireland and France.
Once he had finished his Wales duties, he made the move from Swinton to Hull Kingston Rovers, stepping up from League 1 to the Championship.
Making 19 appearances and scoring seven tries across 2006, Joseph played his part in Rovers' promotion to Super League.
That led to his second call-up for Wales as he faced Scotland in the first of three World Cup Qualifiers across two years.
He was on the move ahead of the new campaign, however, opting to stay in the Championship with Halifax.
Phil lifts the European Championship
And he was ever present for 'Fax throughout 2007, grabbing a decent tally for a forward of nine tries in 28 matches.
In the close season, Joseph played and scored a try in a full international with Papua New Guinea, before featuring in the final two World Cup Qualifiers against Scotland and Lebanon.
Although he opted for a change of scenery for 2008, joining Oldham in League 1, he did stay at the club for two seasons.
In his first season at Whitebank Stadium, he crossed for 12 tries in 33 appearances, helping the club to a Grand Final appearance.
The year after, Joseph was again a constant in the side and the club had the same fate: runners up in the Grand Final.
For 2010, he moved across town to join Swinton Lions for a second spell, spending a further two years at the club.
Across that period, he grabbed 22 tries in 41 appearances and, in 2011, experienced another promotion as Swinton went up to the Championship.
His performances caught the eye of clubs higher up and he signed a deal with Bradford Bulls, in Super League at the time, for 2012, making six appearances in all.
After leaving the Bulls and going on trial at Widnes ahead of 2013, he signed terms at the Select Security Stadium and spent three years in total at the club.
During his first year with the Vikings, he played on 25 occasions, before making 19 appearances in 2014.
The following year, he turned out for Widnes eight times and also spent some time on loan in the Championship with Whitehaven.
In the autumn, he featured for Wales once again after eight years away from international duty.
His inclusion in the squad was a huge positive for John Kear; he was key part of the side that lifted the European Championship after victories over Scotland, France and Ireland.
Last season, he was with Super League club Salford Red Devils and also made one appearance for their dual-registration partner North Wales Crusaders.
Phil with his partner and son
After helping Wales qualify for the World Cup in the close season, Joseph was set to link up with Bradford Bulls in the Championship.
However, the club experienced financial issues and the 32-year-old joined Workington Town in League 1 for 2017 instead.
Joseph, who is now studying for a degree and has a therapy business that is growing by the day, has experience across a number of divisions and, with his no nonsense approach on the pitch, there is no doubt that he is key for Wales.
Along with Craig Kopczak as captain and Elliot Kear as a fellow vice captain, he will proudly lead the Dragons into the World Cup.
"I’m very pleased about the appointment and can’t wait to help lead the lads into a World Cup," he said on his vice captaincy.
“I’ve had some fantastic memories in rugby league and have played at the highest level for years, but the pinnacle of my career will be to play against the best players in the world on arguably the biggest stage.
“We have a close-knit group of boys with Wales. We work well with each other and for each other and that highlights why we have gone six matches unbeaten.”
Name: Phil Joseph
Position: Second row
Current club: Workington Town
Eligibility: Born in Huddersfield, England. Qualifies through heritage
Date of birth: 10/01/85
Wales heritage: #428; Wales caps: 12; Wales tries: 1; first Wales appearance: 16/10/05; last Wales appearance: 29/10/16
YOU CAN SEE PHIL'S FULL WALES RECORD HERE
YOU CAN FOLLOW PHIL ON TWITTER: @philjoe13
YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW HIM ON INSTAGRAM: @bigphiljo13
Wales' group matches at Rugby League World Cup 2017 are as follows:
PAPUA NEW GUINEA V WALES
Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
FIJI V WALES
WALES V IRELAND
Perth Rectangular Stadium
Get behind the lads at the World Cup by purchasing the new replica kit! Visit the online shop HERE.
Article by Ryan Gould
Images from Phil Joseph and Ian Lovell