A former member of Nottingham Forest Football Academy, Joe Heyes, was a goalkeeper, like his father Darren and his grandad Bob, but found his rugby niche when joining Nottingham Moderns at the age of 14.
He also played for Newark where Glen Lever and Dave Charles taught him the basics of the game before joining Leicester Tigers Academy two years ago.
“It was there that Brett Deacon, Anthony Allen and Boris Stankovich got me to understand the nitty gritty of rugby," said Heyes. "My biggest obstacle has been mental health. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder last year but with the help of friends and family I got support and was back playing at Leicester.”
Nottingham born and educated at Toot Hill School in Bingham, he has been studying history, business and sociology at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College in Leicester. He played in all nine England U18 matches in 2017 and was a maiden try-scorer in the 45-24 win over Scotland in the U18 International Series at Ystrad Mynach in April. He was also a member of the U18 squad that toured South Africa in August.
In Joe’s younger days, his rugby heroes were, not surprisingly, props – Ireland’s Cian Healy and Logovi’I Mulipola, of the Tigers. His best experience was playing for England U18 in the 39-20 win over Ireland at Parc y Scarlets in April 2017, watched by his Irish mother and grandparents. He is involved in a lot of football and table tennis, and follows American football.
In soccer terms he supports players, not teams. He said: “Wherever Irish footballers Shay Given and Robbie Keane are – that is my team.” Joe’s best rugby-playing friends are Xander Purcell and Oscar Harper, fellow members of the Tigers Academy and his own family have an eclectic mix of sporting talents.
He continued: “My granddad George won the Welsh FA Cup for Swansea City and was also with Leicester City, my mother Rachel played for Ireland and Nottingham Wildcats at basketball, my dad Darren appeared for Nottingham Forest and various England representative teams and my other granddad Bob Rees was a British record-holder in the long jump.
“I love Asia, especially Singapore where my uncle lives. My music tastes are reggae, German rock, Irish folk and Celtic rock and rap. Dropkick Murphys is my top artist. The films I like most are Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogy and I enjoy Breaking Bad on TV. Seafood risotto is my favourite meal and I reckon the best computer games are Grand Theft Auto 5 and Rome Total War.
5 points – 1T
2017 F(R), S, W(R), C(R), I(R), S; SA Tour: F, W(R), SA
Last updated: 12 January 2018