Sean’s a box-office attraction

Kid gloves: Sean Long with his 'son James
Kid gloves: Sean Long with his 'son James
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As one of the finest rugby league players of his generation, Sean Long has grown accustomed to the physical demands of his sport.

Taking a hit on the pitch is a feeling the former St Helens star – who currently plays union for Preston Grasshoppers – knows only too well.

But soon the ex-Great Britain half-back will be attempting to evade some lusty blows of a different kind – when he makes his debut in the boxing ring next month.

The 36-year-old is fighting former Irish rugby union star Alan Quinlan in a charity event called ‘Rugger in the Ring’.

To be held as part of union players Mark Cueto and Tom Shanklin’s testimonial year, the event will be staged at London’s Grange City Hotel on November 6.

Long will be joined on the bill by a number of illustrious names from both codes of rugby, including Martin Offiah, Freddie Tuilagi and Matt Perry.

And Long revealed to the Evening Post this week that he has been busy preparing for his bout under the tutelage of Jon Bridge at the Ironman Bodybuilding Centre in Preston.

Long said: “It’s being billed as league against union because there are lot of ex-players from both codes who are going to be fighting.

“As well as me and Alan Quinlan, there’s going to be Colin Charvis, Martin Offiah, Brian McDermott, Matt Perry, Freddie Tuilagi and Lee Radford also fighting.”

Long admits he has always been a frustrated boxer and admits he jumped at the opportunity to pull the gloves on.

Long said: “I got asked if I fancied taking part in a white-collar boxing fight.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun but I think it will be serious as well.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever boxed. I’ve always thought about doing boxing.

“For the last four weeks I have been in training at Jon Bridge’s gym. I’m still playing union with Hoppers and doing a lot of training with Jon.

“He’s looking after my weight training and diet.

“Boxing training is pretty tough – a bit different to training for rugby league, but it’s still just as intense.

“When I used to play league, we used to do some alternative training sessions, so we would all go and do boxing or wrestling.”

Despite having played on the biggest stage RL has to offer, Long admits he will be racked with nerves when he enters into the ring next month.

“I get very nervous just sparring,” Long said. “So I think I will be a bit nervous when I get into the ring, thinking I could get knocked out.

“Alan Quinlan used to play for Munster and won 27 caps for Ireland. He’s a big six-footer, so I might be a bit out of my depth against him.

“I think I will have to try to keep out of his way in the ring!”