Words by Gary Carter
AUSTERLANDS lad Joe Greenwood is back in the heat of Super League battle – after arriving to a family emergency because of the dramatic moorland fires.
But the new Wigan Warriors back-rower insists he is glad to be back home, if only so he can have his parents’ cooking!
Greenwood, 25, left Australian side Gold Coast Titans after just over 18 months there and made his debut on June 28 against Leeds.
And he also revealed the drama that soon followed after he landed as the area was swamped by smoke and ash.
Greenwood, who played for Saddleworth Rangers until U16 level, told the Independent: “I’ve got friends who had to be evacuated, so it’s been a case of helping them.
“They live in Mossley and my little nephew struggles with asthma, so we had to get him out because of the smoke. It looks like I’m training to be a fireman as well as a rugby player!
“When I first came over, my partner and I were a bit panicky. It’s been full on, I haven’t had chance to think about where I actually am.
“I was like, ‘It was a bit easier back over in Australia!’ Give me winter any day of the week. I’ve missed the snow, as well as family and friends.
“My parents kept me up to date through the winter, though, with Beast from the East and then Beast from the East 2. I’m glad I’ve come over in the summer.”
He added: “I missed Austerlands. I missed my mum and dad’s food!
“When I left Gold Coast, it was colder than it is here, so that’s made it a smooth transition, other than the jet lag. When I first arrived on a Sunday, on the Monday I was up for training at 2am wide awake!
“My partner and I are back in Austerlands for the minute, then we’ll move somewhere closer to training.”
Greenwood admits getting his career back on track after being touted for an England call-up during his time at St Helens brought him back home.
His brother James, who plays for Hull KR, also had an influence over his new nickname.
He said: “I loved the lifestyle there and it would have liked to stay for a couple more years but it’s a short career, and when this opportunity came up I couldn’t turn it down.
“I’ve been keeping my eye on Super League and Wigan are up there, they’re pushing for silverware and coming here was a no-brainer.
“It only seems two minutes ago I was packing up and leaving the Gold Coast and now here I am.
“I was nervous, it was like the first day of school again, getting to know the coaching staff and players.
“My brother James used to play here at Wigan and they called him Bear. The lads said I need a nickname. That was at 9am, and by 1pm I was told I’m going to be called ‘Yogi’.”
Greenwood, who has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Wigan Warriors, says he is a better player for the spell spent playing rugby league for Gold Coast Titans.
He said: “I have no regrets. It was a really good 18 months and it has definitely made me a better player.
“I learned a lot, not only about rugby but also life experiences as I was thrown in at the deep end.”
Greenwood, a former pupil at Knowsley Juniors and Saddleworth School, made 22 appearances during his debut season in 2017 when one of his four tries was voted the club’s best touchdown of the campaign.
It was Greenwood’s inability to hold down a first-team place this season that heralded his exit from the Titans.
“I want to be playing regularly and, when Wigan came in for me, they made me an offer I couldn’t turn down,” he said
“They are a massive club with a lot of history and the start of a new chapter in my career.”
Greenwood believes the pace of the NRL is a lot quicker than Super League which he describes as more physical than the Aussie game.
Warriors’ executive director Kris Radlinski said: “We had been engaged in discussions with Joe and his representatives for a good few weeks.
“At 6ft 3in and weighing 110kgs he is a big athlete who always caused us problems when he played for St Helens and I’m very excited to see him in a Wigan shirt.”