Super League to Super Food - former Warrington Wolves player James Laithwaite fuels next generation

As a professional rugby league player James Laithwaite played at the top of the game with Warrington Wolves.

But after breaking his leg four times the former Leigh Centurions and Swinton Lions second row was forced to retire at the age of 28.

With his sporting career over James teamed up with his wife Michelle to start a new career in the food industry.

James says: "It was all new, we've been learning every single day. At the start I didn't know how to send emails or do an invoice.

"I didn't even know the difference between gross and net profit. I've been learning everyday and it's been a learning curve but it's been a good journey.

"I'm alright (in the kitchen) I can do a bit. I leave the chefs to do most of it but every role in the business I've probably done it throughout the last three years definitely."

Since setting up their healthy food business Fuel Hub in 2019, James and Michelle have faced plenty of challenges especially on the weekend they launched.

James and Michelle Laithwaite with baby Stanley in 2019 Credit: Instagram @jameslaithwaite

Michelle says: "I was eight months pregnant and we were in the kitchen and the chefs were cooking the meals, I was at the pot wash.

"I went home that night and my waters broke and I gave birth the next morning at 4am.

"James had to leave the delivery room and then go and deliver the meals for the first delivery weekend so it was all a bit crazy."

James Laithwaite at Warrington Wolves

Unlike the riches of football's Premier League, most Super League players like James have to keep working once their playing days are over.

He says: "A lot of players struggle because it's all they've known and rugby has been their life since school.

"Making that transition it's hard after running out  in front of 20,000 fans on a Friday night playing for Warrington against Wigan or St Helens to then going to have to do a normal day job I know players struggle."

James and Michelle now employ 15 staff and make 3,000 meals every week supplying the likes of Warrington as well as Team GB, Derby County, Fulham and Blackpool.

Ross Jones, Head of Sports Science at Blackpool FC says: "It's been brilliant for us just to have the meals in the fridge on the team bus.

"As soon as the lads are out of the ground when we're playing away and we're ready to travel home we can put these meals in the microwave two or three minutes and there ready to go and the lads are getting exactly what they need to help that recover for the next game."

James and Michelle are now hopeful of investment to help them supply more professional clubs across even more sports.

From leg breaks to his big break, James has swapped the of buzz of being with ball to the buzz of being the boss.