NOT many sportsmen could combine the rough and tumble of competitive rugby league with a passion for sculpture and fine art.
But Liam Gilchrist, who returned home from Down Under recently after helping the Great Britain Universities team to a 2-0 victory in a three-Test Ashes series, has done just that.
The 22-year-old prop, who recently completed a fine art degree at the University of Central Lancashire, starred for the student team in the first and third Tests in Brisbane and Cairns.
The ex-St Helens trainee, from Billinge, said: “Last year I played for the England student team in Limerick, and the year before for Great Britain against Australia in Leigh. The Aussies beat us both times on that visit, so we were delighted to reverse the score in their backyard.
“We spent five days training in Bali before heading to Darwin for a warm-up game against the Northern Territories.
“We then travelled to Brisbane and drew the first Test 20-20, before winning the second 10-4.
“After Brisbane, we went to Cairns for the final Test, which we won 26-14. It was a great experience.”
Gilchrist was on St Helens’ books from the ages of 13 to 21, and now plays for Oldham in Championship One.
But, as well as his commitment to rugby, he also plans to study towards a masters and teaching qualification and to start selling his eye-catching sculptures.
One of his sculptures completed while at university – of a werewolf – has already attracted plenty of interest.
He added: “I want to be a teacher, but I want to concentrate on my rugby too. I’ll just keep on juggling the two and see where it takes me.”