ROB Parker says a spell working on the railways as a steel engineer has made appreciate his new job at the Bulls even more.
The former prop is getting to grips with his role as the club’s commercial manager after being unveiled last week.
But at the end of 2011, Parker left the full-time environment of Super League at Salford and was forced to find a job while playing part-time in the Championship with Leigh.
The 32-year-old said: “I had just turned 30 and had never done a day’s work, so it wasn’t a bad innings.
“It was a case of ‘what am I going to do now?’ so I signed for Leigh part-time but the finances weren’t huge so I had to work.
“A friend of mine got me a job working on the railways as a steel engineer.
“That was a real chalk-and-cheese moment – one minute you’re a Super League player and people are asking for your autograph.
“The next thing you know, you’re lugging tonnes of steel up bridges.
“Ironically, one of the first couple of months of the job saw me working in Bradford.
“It was strange because there I was, working in overalls, whereas ten years ago I had won the Challenge Cup for the Bulls.
“I played it low-key that week… I had a balaclava on!
“But I have seen what real-life work is all about and to be honest that job kept me grounded.”
Parker, who joined the Bulls straight from school as a 16-year-old, wanted a job where he could utilise his rugby knowledge and experience.
He served Leigh as a player and commercial manager before eventually assuming the role as the club’s general manager.
“As much as it was honest, hard graft on the railways, I probably wasn’t fulfilling my potential,” admitted Parker.
“Playing part-time in the Championship and working full-time is extremely tough.
“I actually played a game on a Thursday in 2013 which was on Premier Sports.
“I went and did a night shift straight afterwards, so I know what it’s about.
“We used to train Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday morning and then play Sunday.
“You’ve got a full-time job and you might be playing Whitehaven away, so your Sunday is gone and with it your family-time.”
Even after taking on a full-time job with Leigh, combining the position with his playing responsibilities was tough.
He explained: “I started at Leigh in February 2013 – I was captain of the club and the business and commercial manager.
“I was full-time then but it was quite difficult. Sometimes I would be playing and thinking ‘I wonder if Betty in box 15 has a vegan meal?’
“I was doing everything so it made me realise there are two teams at a rugby club to look after what happens on and off the field.
“If you’re not doing your job off the field and bringing money in, then how can your coach go and buy players?
“That’s the buzz I get now. I wouldn’t say I can have a direct influence on results, but I can help us to have better finances which gets us better players ultimately. That’s where I get my kicks these days.”