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Toronto Wolfpack hooker Bob Beswick doubles as player, strength coach

Toronto Wolfpack hooker plays dual role

At five foot 10, Bob Beswick stands in the shadow of the bigger men who wear the Toronto Wolfpack shirt.

But the Irish international hooker’s 205-pound frame, which looks like someone has dropped a barrel on a pair of tree-trunk thighs, is visible proof of Beswick’s dual function as the transatlantic rugby league team’s strength-and-conditioning coach.

The 32-year-old Beswick, who previous played at Wigan, Widnes, Halifax and Leigh, is enjoying the Wolfpack setup.

“I think the strength and conditioning side’s the best I’ve ever been to,” Beswick (pronounced BEZ’-ick) said with a chuckle.

“I’ve still not quite grasped the concept myself of a Canadian team playing in the UK that plays the home games in Canada,” added Beswick, who has yet to set foot in Canada.

“But that’s what appeals to us and appeals to us as a group. We’re not players or staff certainly that’ll sort of sit in our comfort zone. We want to get out there, we want to try new things.

“The setup’s been as I imagined. It’s been crazy. It’s been organized. It’s been fun. It’s been hard. It’s been everything we could ever hope for. But we’re just on rung one on the ladder. Once we start getting over to Canada and the country sees the game that we can play, I think things will just get better and better. But it’s been a great start.”

Toronto, which plays its first five league matches on the road in England before opening at home May 6, has yet to lose a competitive match in four outings.

While the Wolfpack are very much a work in progress, they are a fully professional side playing against semi-pro setups in the Kingstone Press League 1, the third division of English rugby league.

But they showed last weekend they can compete with the big boys, dispatching the London Boncos — who play in the second-tier Championship — 30-26 in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup

Toronto (2-0-0) visits the Keighley Cougars (1-1-0) in West Yorkshire on Sunday in league play.

Keighley’s knockout tournament run ended in a 20-0 loss to the Barrow Raiders, who are second to Toronto in the league standings.

As hooker/dummy half, Beswick is the first distributor of the ball. He tees up the big forwards or makes darting runs himself.

With roles on and off the field, Beswick is a busy man. He is no stranger to the gym, having owned the Elite Fitness Factory in Wigan along with partners Mike Grundy, a former bronze medallist in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games who is now an MMA fighter, and Daniel Casey.

Beswick, who has been involved in personal training for some seven years, gave up his piece of the gym when he took on playing and coaching responsibilities with the Wolfpack.

“I couldn’t divide my time up five different ways and satisfy my wife as well,” he said as she listened nearby to the interview.

His wife, Lauren Waterworth, is equally busy. A singer, she has toured with Irish boy band Westlife and just recorded a new album.

Beswick and the Wolfpack now train at the MP Fit Gym near their Brighouse training base.

Otherwise life has not changed too much for Beswick, who still lives in his Wigan home. He and eight other local-area players meet at 6 a.m. to make the 70-kilometre commute east to Brighouse for 8 a.m. training. They’re usually back home at around 4 p.m.

Beswick drives the van. So it’s in safe hands?

“I wouldn’t say that,” he laughed.

While you would not know it from his north England accent, Beswick has played in two World Cups for the Irish Wolfhounds â€” qualifying thanks to his grandparents.

“I’m Wigan-Irish,” he joked.

“I take it seriously,” he added. “I don’t speak with the right accent but certainly playing for Ireland for over 10 years now, I’m very proud of that.”

 

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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