When it comes to sports there’s one game our county of West Yorkshire tends to excel in…Rugby League. So we met up with Leeds lad, and Castleford Tigers player, Ashley Gibson to get an insight into life as a professional player.
Q: Where in Leeds are you from?
A: I am from Bramley and have lived in Leeds all my life, I went to Intake High School.
Q: Did you have any ambitions when you were at school?
A: I knew all through school that I wanted a career in Rugby. I started training when I was 9 years old when I went along to Stanningley Rugby club with a friend, since then that’s all I wanted to do. At school I was practical and sporty, all my focus went into PE because that’s what I was good at. I was a big Rhinos fan so my ultimate dream was to play for them.
Q: How did you get into Rugby professionally?
A: At 15 I got a scholarship to Leeds Rhinos and then when leaving school I went on to do an apprenticeship there. We trained as rugby players alongside studying BTECs and NVQs at Park Lane College. At 18 I made my debut for the Rhinos and scored a hat trick in my first game.
Q: What is your history in Rugby so far?
A: I began at Rhinos and started off well with them, during my time there I had a couple of injuries, one which resulted in a knee reconstruction which put me out of action for a season. Once recovered and back playing I was ready for a change, an opportunity came up at Salford Reds so I ended up there for 4 years. Whilst I was at Salford I still lived in Leeds, me and a couple of other Leeds lads used to travel over every day in what we called ‘the Yorkshire Bus’. Last year I signed to Castleford Tigers and I’m just going into my second season with them, I felt like this was a good move and I’m glad to be back playing local again. I also played for the England A team in 2005- 2006 which was a very proud achievement.
Q: What is it like playing for your current club Castleford Tigers?
A: All the guys on the team are great lads, I feel like I fit in well there. We’ve just got back from a team building camp in the Yorkshire Dales where we did loads of activities like hiking and caving, we stopped in bunk beds and had a right laugh, the only down side was there was no phone signal! Clubs tend to do camps like that pre-season so players can get to know each other, they always work well and you do come away feeling like a team. The fans at Castleford are very loyal and loud during matches which is great hear, it seems a very family orientated club. We’ve just had the best season the club has had in a while and we need to make next season a good one.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: Pre-season we train 5 times a week from 9am-11am, then we’ll have lunch, after lunch we train again 1pm-3pm. During season we train a bit less because we need to keep our energy up for the matches. After training me and some of the lads have our ‘Costa Club’, we’ll go sit in Costa drink loads of coffee and people watch. You’ll either find us in the Costa at Castleford Junction 32, in Leeds city centre, or we sometimes mix it up a bit and go to the White Rose Centre. Some of my mates and I also have a ‘Tuesday Club’ where we head to the Arc or Trio in Headingley for something to eat, as you can probably guess I like my clubs! I also have a little boy called George who is 5 years old, I try to spend as much time with him as I can, he lives just around the corner from me so it works well.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I’ve got a few more years left in me in Rugby so will keep playing for a while, after that I might go down the fitness route. I have always been into fitness and diet and I am a qualified personal trainer so that would make sense. As a rugby player you can receive grants to train for life after rugby, that’s how I got my personal training qualification, I’ve also looked into a plumbing course. I used to be with a modelling agency but it didn’t really work as I couldn’t commit to shoots because of my training schedule, when I finish playing modelling is possibly something I could get back into. I’ve also done a bit of fitness modelling which combines my interests so that’s another possibility.
Q: Where do you like to go out in Leeds?
A: I usually start my nights off in Headingley at the Arc and then head into town. We’ll go to places like Fibre and Call Lane.