Big stars grab the headlines in every sport. Christiano Ronaldo in the world of soccer, Lebron James in the NBA and even rugby league’s own Johnathan Thurston in Australia are never too far away from the cameras and spotlight.
It is part of their persona; they have developed into the eye-catching personalities of their respective sports, with their sublime talent there for all to witness on game day. Every team has that marquee player, the one that can produce bits of individual brilliance to turn a game but, arguably, teams cherish the presence of players that are more reserved and make their name by doing all the little things well even more.
In the sport of rugby league, having a player who is meticulous who can do all the so-called 1%ers that nobody notices well, is sometimes more critical to a team’s success than the superstar.
Toronto Wolfpack second row Richard Whiting epitomizes how to play that role to the highest level. Coming through the junior ranks at Featherstone in West Yorkshire, Whiting’s surge to the top of the game was quick and sustained. After signing for Super League giants Hull FC in 2003, he went on to spend the next 12 years with the Black and Whites.
Amassing over 250 appearances in East Yorkshire, Whiting won a Challenge Cup in 2005 and made his international debut for England in that period. Whiting quickly developed a skill set that allowed him to play almost anywhere in the starting 13 and he became well known for being one of the most reliable players in the game.
Affectionately referred to as ‘Superman’ during his tenure at Hull, Whiting’s ability to read the game and be in the right place at the right time was second to none and so his decision to join the Wolfpack ahead of their inaugural season in 2017 was huge for the club.
Joining coach Paul Rowley in leaving Leigh Centurions, where he spent one-year prior after leaving Hull FC, Whiting became a certain starter for Toronto, showcasing those ever-dependable qualities that made him such a success throughout his career.
However, Whiting is a committed husband and father which threw up some difficulties initially. Having always kept his family close, when the option to commit to a new venture playing their home games on the other side of the Atlantic came up, his decision to join TWP was made with the full support of his family, something that he is extremely happy and grateful for.
“I think my wife could tell how much I wanted to do it but at the end of the day if she hadn’t have wanted me to do it I wouldn’t have,” recalled Whiting.
“It can be hard being away from them for so long but I think now, with it being so easy to keep in touch, it is a lot easier than it would have been 6 or 7 years ago.”
Knowing that his family was settled with him joining the Pack, Whiting produced some outstanding rugby for the Canadian outfit, running deadly lines down both edges to cause endless headaches for the opposition, making him a firm favorite at Lamport Stadium.
Reflecting on a successful 2017 campaign, Whiting is extremely optimistic about the Wolfpack’s ability to build going forward and is happy to be involved in the journey moving into next season.
“The potential for the club is massive,” he said.
“The crowds we have been building this year show that there is huge scope for us to progress and move forward.”