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Exclusive: Steve Tyrer on life post Rugby League, James Roby and IMG

Steve Tyrer will be a very familiar name to Halifax Panthers fans. The centre had a terrific 16-year career, but the bulk of it was spent at the Shay. Tyrer would amass a staggering 217 appearances for the Panthers in his time, cementing himself into Halifax folklore.

Whilst the bulk of his career was spent in Yorkshire, he began it on the other side of the Pennines as he came through the St Helens system and would go on to pull on the famous Red Vee. He would also have two permanent spells at Widnes, where he eventually brought his 16-year career to a close.

Now a year out from his time in Rugby League, he has spoken exclusively to Serious About Rugby League about his new life running a rugby academy-called Stephen Tyrer Rugby Academy-where he coaches in local schools.

“As soon as I retired last year, I set up my own coaching academy for rugby, because I wanted to stay involved so I thought I’d just take it into my own hands and set up my own little business. I coach kids from 8 to 15 and I also go into schools now as well and provide PE lessons, breakfast clubs, after school clubs; so I’ve managed to make a full-time job out of it.” he said.

Tyrer started the coaching academy back in March, and now regularly coaches in both local Rugby League clubs and in six primary schools in the Widnes area.

Tyrer expressed to stay involved with the game, however he went into detail about the person who gave him the ‘lightbulb’ moment: “the Headteacher at the school that my kids go to, she’s a big Leeds Rhinos fan, so whenever I’d bump into her she’d talk to me about rugby quite a lot; and then when I retired, she said ‘oh, I might start getting you in’.

He added: “That was like a bit of a light bulb moment for me, I was like ‘maybe I should go down that route’. I’ve ended up going into that one primary school straight away, and since March, I’m now across six primary schools in Widnes. It’s building nicely and it’s going well.”

Tyrer is now up and running with his business, however he expressed his belief he ‘got lucky’ with the people around him: “I got lucky because so many people wanted to help me out. I had a lot of help straight away.”

“I had someone within the family who could design all my branding for me, I had people at schools wanting to get me in and then I had parents who wanted to bring their kids to me so straight away, within a month, I was up and running and earning quite well from it so it’s just gone from strength to strength really.”

The former centre retired at the end of the 2022 season, after his fourth stint with Widnes Vikings. He would make 41 appearances for the Vikings in this last spell; however the club decided not the renew his deal which ultimately pushed Tyrer to call time on his career.

“I was in a bit of shock really when Widnes told me they weren’t going to offer me another contract; but I’d always promised my partner that when Widnes didn’t want me I’ll call it a day. I always thought I had another year in me, I was struggling to train a little bit but come Sunday I was still performing so I was ready for another year but obviously Widnes had different ideas, and I respected it after a couple of days,” he said.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks at first, but then after a few days I was like ‘my body is probably about done’. I was all right, but then obviously you’ve only got a couple of months left of that wage, so you start thinking ‘I need to sort myself out now’.”

The bulk of his 16-year career was spent in the blue and white of the Halifax Panthers, however it began in the infamous Red Vee of St Helens. During his time at the Saints, he would make 22 appearances and would play alongside some club legends like James Roby, and he during the interview he detailed his relationship with the departing captain.

“He was a few years older than me, and when I started I couldn’t drive. We lived around the corner from each other, so he used to be the guy who took me to training every day. He proper looked after me. He was just a gent of a bloke, really, he always looked after me.”

He also heaped praise on his former teammate, saying: “He’s just a phenomenon. I think he only ended up with one man of steel, but he could have won it most years, or near enough every year in my opinion. He’s just been that good and that consistent. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an actual game where he’s been less than a seven or an eight out of 10. He was just so consistent, so fit, so durable.

“He’s such a likeable guy and a nice guy away from the game as well, family man. He just looked after himself and then that’s when you get 530-odd professional games and up your belt so he’s just an absolute legend.”

Tyrer may not be a player anymore, but he still keeps a keen eye on the sport he spent 16 years playing. He regularly watches St Helens and Widnes play, and cited Halifax is ‘his club’. He also keeps up with regular news within the sport, in particular the situation with IMG; and he told SARL he is ‘all for’ the changes IMG are bringing to the game.

“I’m all for it,” he said. “I know a lot of fans are like ‘oh you need promotion’, I don’t think you do. I think in this country, in this sport, I just don’t think it works.”

“I was cheering like mad for London the other week when they went up, but then as soon as that full-time whistle went I’m thinking ‘they’re going to be lucky to win half a game, never mind a full game’ and I just don’t think that’s good. Toulouse went up, straight back down, I’ve seen it loads of times from Leigh; I know Leigh were fantastic last year and smashed it, but I just don’t think it works unless you’ve got someone like Derek Beaumont backing you up, I just don’t think it works. I think they need to find a way to stem that way of movement in the leagues. Build your club, make your club stronger and then see if you can have a go at it, so I’m all for it really.”

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