St Helens star Alex Walmsley has lifted the lid on his dramatic dash from Super League pitch to hospital bedside for the birth of his son.
The towering front rower was substituted in the final quarter of last Thursday’s game at Wakefield to head to the maternity ward in his full playing kit.
Walmsley was just too late to witness the birth of Atticus – named after the main character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” – but was alongside partner Simone Clark shortly afterwards.
Walmsley explained: “Simone was due on the Sunday before the game and I wanted to be there – she was going to be induced on the Saturday after.
“I spoke with (coach) Justin Holbrook as we knew how big a game it was and Simone really wanted me to play.
“She was showing a lot of signs but it was a must-win game and her and her parents thought it was best for me to be there.
“I drove there under instructions that if anything happened, tell me.
“Simone had her first contraction at 5pm but left it as long as possible to try and let me get through the game.
“Her mum, Lesley, was with her saying, ‘You’ve got to ring Alex!’, but she was like, ‘No, leave it until the second half!’
“The conditioner came on and said, ‘That’s you now,’ and Justin said, ‘We’ve had the call. Simone’s gone into labour.’
“So I pretty much ran into the changing rooms, swapped my boots for trainers, grabbed my bag and jumped into the car.”
Even the hour and a half journey was filled with drama, with Walmsley and team-mate Kyle Amor – there for moral support – keeping track of hospital updates and Saints’ crucial win.
Walmsley said: “We had SkyGo going on his phone, so as you can imagine it was a bit crazy in that car!
“When I got to the hospital I was still in my kit and still strapped up.
“I actually cut my knee in the game and had to have stitches.
“So I had to leave the delivery suite at 2.30am to go down to A&E and get my stitches put in, then it was back to the delivery suite at 4am and we went home at 1pm on Friday.”
Walmsley is back in Saints’ squad for Friday’s equally crucial home clash with Huddersfield – with a little less sleep than usual due to baby Atticus.
He added: “He’s awesome.
“The only complaint I have is he doesn’t really like sleeping at 2am!
“He likes to be up but other than that, he’s perfect.
“It’s been a crazy few days to be honest.
“It’s been hectic and really overwhelming to be honest, the ecstasy I’m feeling is unbelievable.”