MMU Rugby star, Josh Dean: “I hope to be picked for Ireland again”

  • MMU student, and rising Irish Rugby star, Josh Dean encourages students to get involved with sport

Influential Manchester Metropolitan University student, Josh Dean, openly admits feeling “lost in life” sometimes, but encourages students to get involved in sport at University stating “it’s the best and most important part of university for me.”

Aside from rugby Josh revealed his battle with depression and the positives the game has done for his mental health. This encouraged Josh to be an ambassador for MMU’s very own #itok campaign launched at the back-end of 2016, reminding students that it’s ok to talk about mental health.  

Aiming to break the stigma surrounding mental health through the #itsok campaign, Josh is optimistic that he can spread the word throughout Universities with the hope that he helps at least one person.

Josh said: “There have been a few times I’ve found myself quite lost in life in general, and this has sometimes affected my demeanour at training and games.

“But, recently rugby has allowed me to stop overthinking and just enjoy my time away from the stress of University.”  

Josh’s positive mental attitude is being demonstrated on the pitch, personally playing well for MMU’s rugby league team, after he knocked over the winning drop goal against rivals Newcastle University.

Growing up, Josh’s dad proved to be major influence in encouraging him to join the game he’s only grew to love over the years.

Beginning just aged 4; Josh would watch Halifax RLFC on a Sunday afternoon with his dad, thus inspiring Josh to get involved the minute he turned old enough to register for his local club Elland ARLFC.

Situated in West Yorkshire, Elland rugby club is in the heartland of rugby league where the game originated in 1895. So it’s easy to see where Josh’s passion and love for the game has stemmed from.

Throughout his career Josh has achieved a vast amount of success featuring for various clubs and his school team, winning three national cups in 2009-2011.

With his talent quickly becoming noticed, a short stint at Huddersfield Giants whilst in his final year at college laid foundations for his first Ireland students call up in 2014. This wasn’t going to be the first time however, as Josh was selected following successful trials in 2015 to play in the Four Nations.

Josh Dean, MMU student and Rugby starj
Josh playing for MMU

Despite missing out in 2016, the future is still looking bright as Josh is setting his sights high on playing for Ireland once more. 

This year the Ireland student’s rugby league team are set to compete in the World Cup in Australia, with trials commencing on February 19.

“The World Cup is coming up in Australia and I’m hoping I can be picked to play for Ireland once again, it’s a great honour.

“Playing for Ireland has been the pinnacle of what I could call a career and fills me with pride and I’d love to add a few more caps to my CV.”

As well as Josh’s dad being an influential character growing up, watching his favourite Halifax players on a Sunday afternoon was a huge turning point, triggering Josh’s decision to fall in love with the game.

“Watching Halifax as a kid, I always looked up to players such as Andrew Dunemann, an Australian halfback and other players in similar positions with a certain charisma.

“Sean Long was another one, who played in the great Saints team that always produced comebacks from the death to win in the dying moments of the game.”  

With many choosing to follow rugby union at international level, rugby league is often disregarded by the British public. However, the Rugby Football League (RFL) is now focusing on encouraging more people to play the sport, with financial support being offered to higher education institutions.

Coming to MMU specifically for the rugby league in 2014, Josh believes that it’s the best and most important part of University for him, meeting invaluable friends that he’ll know for the rest of his life – stressing that people should not judge the sport before giving it a go.

“I would definitely encourage people to give rugby league a go.

“Even though the stigma and stereotype suggests big lads being boisterous it’s a great group of honest people that will end up being a massive part of your life in and out of the game.”

“I enjoy the competitiveness as well as the physicality, but in general I think it’s an extremely exciting sport to play and spectate”.

Currently training three times a week, with optional gym sessions, Josh feels much stronger and can see improvements in his game and health benefits.

Thanks to the help from coaches, Chris Atkin and Joe Collins, the dream of honouring Ireland once again looks a certainty.

Best of luck for the future, Josh.