22nd August 2017, 16:21
MEET THE TEAM: Matty Fozard
Next up in the MEET THE TEAM series ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2017 is Sheffield Eagles' Matty Fozard.
Born in Widnes, Matty Fozard has always known rugby league and began to play the sport as young as the age of four.
After spending nearly a decade at Halton Farnworth Hornets as a junior, he moved to the north of the town to play for West Bank Bears when he was 12.
Two years later, though, he was spotted while playing for the Bears and joined Super League club St Helens.
Matty celebrates a victory with his Sheffield teammates
Following a number of years playing in Saints' academy sides and then turning full-time, Fozard was given an opportunity in the first-team.
In April 2014, he was named in Saints' line-up to face neighbours Widnes Vikings in Super League.
Later that year, Fozard's break at international level came as John Kear included him in his squad for the European Championship.
Despite Wales losing 42-22 on his debut, he did manage to get on the scoresheet after starting at loose forward.
He also started at 13 for Wales' final match of the campaign against Ireland at the Racecourse Stadium.
Unfortunately for Fozard, however, he wasn't able to feature for Wales in 2015 because of a broken jaw.
At club level, the 22-year-old was on the move ahead of 2016 as he signed a two-year deal with Championship club Sheffield Eagles.
Last season, Fozard was ever present in Mark Aston's side, making 31 appearances in all competitions and grabbing nine tries in the process.
Matty, his Dad and Wales teammates celebrate World Cup qualification
Following the 2016 campaign, he was called up to the Wales squad for a second time.
Although he put in fine performances in all three matches last autumn, it was in the crucial World Cup qualifier over in Italy that Fozard stood out.
With a number of players missing through injury, he was asked to stand in at scrum-half and his man-of-the-match display proved to be key in Wales' automatic World Cup qualification through their group.
So far in 2017, Fozard has again been impressive for Sheffield, who are currently third in the League 1 Shield and pushing for a spot in the top two.
In 27 appearances to date this season, he has grabbed ten tries in all.
On the current campaign, Fozard said: "We're going well. We started off the season a bit rough, but we're slowly getting back to where we want to be.
"I feel as if I'm doing pretty well myself; I've been scoring a few tries.
"I need to stay injury free and see where it leads me with Wales at the end of the season."
For Fozard, who qualifies to play for Wales through his grandmother, the thought of playing in a World Cup is an "exciting" one.
"It would be massive for both myself and my family," he said.
"It would make my Nan and the rest of my family very proud. It would be a massive achievement.
"[For anybody playing rugby league], the biggest thing you can do in your career is to play in a World Cup.
"To play in just one World Cup is a massive achievement for anybody.
"We are going into it with great form and with a good squad.
"When John first took over, we lost all of our matches.
"The way we have turned it around and have played against some very good sides could be important for the World Cup.
"I'm looking forward to it and can't wait to hopefully be involved."
Name: Matty Fozard
Current club: Sheffield Eagles
Community club: West Bank Bears/Halton Farnworth Hornets
Eligibility: Born in St Helens. Eligible through his grandmother
Date of birth: 03/03/95
Wales heritage: #499; Wales caps: 5; Wales tries: 1; first Wales appearance: 25/10/14; last Wales appearance: 29/10/16
SEE MATTY'S FULL WALES RECORD HERE
YOU CAN FOLLOW MATTY ON TWITTER: @mattyfozard
YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW MATTY ON INSTAGRAM: @mattyfozard
Matty with his parents and two brothers
Wales' group matches at Rugby League World Cup 2017 are as follows:
PAPUA NEW GUINEA V WALES
Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
FIJI V WALES
WALES V IRELAND
Perth Rectangular Stadium
Get behind the boys at the World Cup with the new replica kit! Visit the online store HERE.
Article by Ryan Gould
Images from Matty Fozard and ianlovell.com