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Premiership Rugby

Spotlight On: Phil Swainston of Leeds Carnegie

Spotlight On: Phil Swainston of Leeds Carnegie

Yorkshire pride drives prop Swainston on

At half time at every Leeds Carnegie home game, young teams from across the county will get the chance to play on the famous Headingley Carnegie pitch before taking their seats to watch Leeds Carnegie in action and for Leeds’ Phil Swainston he knows just how it feels to be one of those young fans in the terraces supporting Yorkshire’s only Premiership Rugby side.  “I was a Leeds fan growing up,” explains the Harrogate born prop, “They were my local team and I loved getting the opportunity to see Premiership rugby on my doorstep and seeing players like Jonny Wilkinson in action.  My Dad was a coach at Harrogate and he took me down there and he and Alex Black’s Dad used to coach us.  As a young player it’s always exciting to see professionals play so I really enjoyed coming down to watch Leeds.  The player I most admired in the team was Rob Rawlinson and it was great for me to get to play with him at Leeds after watching him for so many years.”

The former England U18 international is encouraged by how many young fans now come to see Leeds play from across the county and are getting behind the team, “I think lots of the young players at Harrogate are Leeds supporters.  There is a lot more involvement with the local clubs through our Community team, which creates awareness of the team and they then get to come to Headingley Carnegie to see top flight rugby.  I know this can be really exciting for young teams to see their heroes play, so it’s up to us to do the job on the field today so they can continue seeing that in Yorkshire.”

Whilst his future at the club is clear, after his playing days are over Swainston confesses that his thoughts after he finishes playing are more leisurely than vocational, “I have a degree in Sports Science and perhaps I may become a PE teaching like my Dad or fitness instructor when I retire from the game but the first thing I want to do is go travelling and have a complete break.  I haven’t had much chance to travel with my rugby career so it is top of my list of things to do.  I am going to see my brother in Australia at the end of the year, which I’m really looking forward to as I’ve never been there before.  He has done the whole travelling thing and always comes back with these great stories that make me really jealous.”

A product of the Leeds Carnegie Academy Swainston is one of eighteen players in the current squad who have emerged through the system and the prop says he is close to many of the players who he has grown up with and currently shares a house with two of his team mates.  “I live with Gareth Denman and Alex Black, who I have played with since junior level.  When we are at home from training we try to switch off from rugby and don’t tend to talk too much about the game as you need a break from it.  We are quite domesticated actually, I probably do the most cleaning and the others do the cooking.  We do eat healthily and all have our specialty dishes that we cook, mine is probably a roast dinner.”

If competing on the training field was not enough, away from the game Swainston also likes to take on his team mates through a new hobby that has become popular amongst the youngest members of the Carnegie squad, “Recently I have got into the game Call of Duty on the Play Station 3.  We can all connect to one another through the internet to play against each other.  I probably only spend about an hour a night on it but some of the others like Pete Wacket and Tom Denton are a bit addicted and spend their lives on there!”

Away from the virtual reality of Call of Duty, the former Harrogate junior says his pastimes are more sporty, “I like playing golf with my friends back home or my teammates here at Leeds.  I can get around a golf course but I would say I am pretty average at the game.

“I also enjoy watching sport, I support Chelsea although I don’t get much chance to see them because of the distance.  I follow cricket, I used to play with Jonathan Bairstow who plays for Yorkshire, so I try to go see them when I can.  I played for Harrogate and we both represented North Yorkshire.  I’ve been watching the Cricket World Cup over the last few weeks, so I was a little disappointed with England’s defeat against the Irish.  I’m just hoping that the rugby team won’t slip up against them too in the Six Nations!”

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