Date of birth 13 March 1997. Country Ireland


When did you start playing rugby?
My older brother Patrick played at Northern (in Gosforth) and Dad did some coaching so I went to watch, then joined in when I was about five.

You’re from Newcastle, so what is your Irish heritage?
My parents are Irish. My mum is from Waterford and my dad was born in Tanzania but spent his early youth in Belfast.

Did you play other sports?
Football was my main sport from eight to about 13. I was contracted to the Newcastle United Academy. Then I went to boarding school at Sedbergh and rugby took over. I played cricket, too, and captained my county age groups.

Which position do you prefer?
I’d like to be a ten who can play 15. I really enjoy goalkicking too. I’ve never found it a chore.

Why did you join Ulster?
I liked the set-up and it meant I could do a degree as well as playing full-time. I’m reading politics.

Who have you played for this season?
Ulster A and Ballynahinch.

You played for England U18…
Yes, then I signed for Ulster Academy when I left school and got involved with Ireland U20 from there.

Was playing for Ireland U20 good last year?
It was massively positive and I got better through the whole experience. Now I want to keep working hard, hopefully get some senior caps for Ulster and have a good Six Nations with Ireland U20.

RW Verdict: Simon Mulholland and Chris Mahon at Sedbergh helped to turn McPhillips from a footballer into a rugby player. He has the temperament and talent to go from strength to strength for Ulster and Ireland.

First published in the February 2017 edition of Rugby World magazine.