Anthony Sullivan

Anthony Sulivan 2017

Where are they now?
Anthony Sullivan met up with State of Mind co-founder Dr. Phil Cooper to find out what he was doing now after a fantastic career. Anthony is currently living and working in Sweden!

A quick reminder of Anthony’s playing career and how it all began
“I came late to the game” I played football and dreamed of playing for Manchester United and “I mainly played football in the winter and athletics through the summer”.

Ex – Hull FC, St. George and Castleford Tigers full back or winger Richard Gay’s dad asked him to play at Hull Boys Club. My dad died when I was 16 and this had a big effect on me just as I was starting to play rugby.
Anthony went on then to play for Hull KR colts on a Saturday afternoon, and then for Hull KR ‘A’ Team on a Friday night. “The opportunity to play against and with, some great players who you’d watch on a Sunday playing for the first team , was a fantastic experience and good for your development”.

Anthony Sullivan

“I made my debut at Swinton in 1987 (Station Road) and it’s memorable because I scored with my first touch and but I also received a broken nose! I played quite a few first team games at the back end of the 1988-89 season but I didn’t command a regular first team place until the 1989-1990 season. We had been relegated, the previous season and played in the championship (then, the 2nd division). “I think the early years of sprint work had given me an advantage and I continued to work on my technique throughout my career.”

“Saints came in for me 1991” and he moved across to St. Helens. It was easy settling in with players, although playing to the level that he wanted was not.
“The expectations I placed on myself were far in excess of what I was capable of.”

I wanted to do well all the time but I wasn’t playing well and I kept picking up injuries and couldn’t put a good run of form together. The first three years were tough till Eric Hughes came in to the club, his approach worked well with me and he helped to re-build my confidence. I think Eric put down some great structures that helped the team over the longer term. After Eric came Shaun McRae who I worked well with and my confidence and performances continued to improve.

Ellery Hanley followed Shaun and it was interesting to play under a such a great player who I had admired. “You knew where you stood with Ellery and he always had the team’s best interests to the fore. Everything was geared to being your best and performing well for every match. We won the Grand Final by being tenacious and everybody playing well that night and contributing to the team effort.”

Ian Millward was a different coach again. “My understanding of the game improved significantly under Ian and I came to appreciate it more and learned to look at it through a different lens.”
Anthony Sullivan Wales RL

Anthony was selected to represent Wales at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup. He played for St Helens on the wing in the 1996 Challenge Cup Final victory over Bradford. At the end of Super League’s first season, he was named on the wing in the 1996 Super League Dream Team.

Together with Alan Hunte he was the 1997 St Helens’ top try scorer. In the 1997 post season, Sullivan was selected to play for Great Britain on the wing in the first match of the Super League Test series against Australia. His usual position was on the wing and he was named in this position in 1998’s Super League III Super League Dream Team. Anthony played for St. Helens on the wing in their 1999 Super League Grand Final victory over Bradford and played for St Helens on the wing in their 2000 Super League Grand Final victory over Wigan (my favourite game).

He played for Wales in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and as Super League V champions, St. Helens played against 2000 NRL Premiers, Brisbane Broncos in the 2001 World Club Challenge. Anthony played on the wing in Saints’ victory. He became a dual-code international when he represented the Wales national rugby union team in 2001. This playing career sounds like the expectations were exceeded.

“I left St. Helens in 2001, my tenth year (a testimonial year) as St. Helens weren’t going to renew my contract. I was disappointed because I’d thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I think deep down had hoped to finish my career at Saints.
Anthony Sullivan Wales RU

“However, Cardiff Blues R.F.C had a situation where three of their wingers went down in training and they needed a winger. They came in for me and St. Helens released me. I spent two years at Cardiff. I played well enough to get picked twice for Wales. After a shoulder reconstruction aged 35 and I decided to retire but then was left thinking, now what do I do now?”

“I had begun an Open University Psychology degree but I only got half way through and did not finish it”

“I had a friend in financial services and did financial advisers qualifications, was involved in sales but it did not suit me.”. After that I went in to the building trade and took up plastering and spent a few years in the building trade.

Fortunately I was able to get a job at the RFL in community coaching for 18 months. This was a valuable experience and I learned a lot about coaching. “It was fascinating, meeting a wide variety of people and other coaches, coaches outside our sport. Rod Thorpe and his games for understanding approach to coaching was definitely one of the highlights (Thorpe, R. et al., 1986, Rethinking games teaching).

I then moved to Widnes for a year their player performance department, working with the scholarship, the U20s, U18’s and first team. After some reflection I felt that I needed to be away from rugby, I’d been involved in the game for a long time and didn’t feel like I wanted to spend the rest of my career there. I went back to plastering for 6 / 7 months. I’ve always wanted to experience living and working abroad went to Stockholm. I worked for a short time as a personal trainer and have now moved onto having a gym of my own. I’ve spent the last two years becoming a Certified Gym Jones Instructor

Motivational music – Led Zeppelin

Relaxing music – Classical music when I work

Do you have any involvement in rugby now? (Do you want to?)

No current involvement in rugby although I ‘ve attended some recent reunions

Are you still I touch with former players / teammates?

I don’t really stay in contact with former team mates however when we do catch up at recent reunions it’s very much like old times and it is great to see them and hear what they are doing now.

Best memories of your career:

There has been a few of them, the Challenge Cup finals and the Old Trafford Grand Final win against Wigan were really special. When I started playing I’d always thought that gaining representative honours with GB would be a good indicator that I’d played to a good standard. Playing for Wales at the Millennium Stadium at both league and union is something I’ll always remember too.

“I went to Saints to get challenged, to challenge myself and it certainly did and I always wanted to be the best player I could be”
Not so good memories – “Injuries are part of the game you accept that. How I dealt with injury was that I would ask the physio for a date that I could be back and then focused on the fixture on that date. I would try to always be looking forward to that game and every part of the rehab would then be a step in the right direction”.

Worst game was Warrington v St. Helens week before Challenge Cup final, I picked up a knock the week before and I played not 100% I had a really bad night and made a lot of mistakes. It was like the first 3 years at Saints rolled into one night!! I probably wasn’t right either physically or mentally for that game. I had a sleepless night thinking I’d blown my chance of playing in the Cup final the following weekend.

Toughest opposition winger – Des Drummond, although I owe my Hull KR debut to Dessie as he knocked out our winger. He was a ferocious tackler and was feared by wingers and centres because of his tackling.

What I do now?

I currently run

We offer small group personal training at our gym in Stockholm, focusing on general physical fitness. Our focus is on getting people fitter and stronger within a challenging environment.

We’ve seen major improvements in all our members and have now decided to offer our program online