Foster is aiming to prove a cut above the opposition

Gone are the days when rugby league players would retire and then start thinking about opening a public house.

Jamie Foster

It was the standard career path for many before the game turned fully professional but, for the modern era, things are slightly more varied.

Bradford Bulls’ Jamie Foster, for instance, is only 22 but already planning for life after the sport, having opened a barber’s shop with a bit of a difference.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ever since his Super League debut with home-town 
St Helens almost three years ago, the colourful winger has drawn attention through his various bold hairstyles and clearly takes great pride in his image.

When it emerged plenty were following his lead, a business opportunity sprang to mind.

“As soon as I started playing Super League, I started seeing lots of little mini Jamie Fosters running around St Helens with all the different hair patterns I had,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“I remember going into the barber’s who cut the stars into my head and saying, ‘Just a tidy up’.

“He asked if I wanted something for free and I didn’t know what he meant. It turned out he’d done nearly 400 of my haircuts over the last month and was charging £18 a go.

“I was there doing the maths on my way home and mentioned it to my mum. She said we should look into having our own barber’s.

“We set one up called Style JF22 in Blackbrook – near my old local club – last May and it’s doing very well, making some pretty reasonable profit.

“I’ve only got three chairs in now but it’s non-stop so I need to start expanding. I’ll be looking at another in a couple of weeks.

“My mum laughs thinking I’m some sort of Duncan Ballantyne Dragons’ Den kind of bloke but I’ve got my head screwed on.

“My family looks after the running of it all and I just pop in to show my face and get my hair cut. I’ve learnt a lot from people like Jon Wilkin at Saints – ‘making money makes sense’ – but it’s all sorted for me and I can just concentrate on the rugby.”

He is doing that with some aplomb again. After a nightmarish performance, ironically at Bradford, last March, the prolific wideman found himself shunted into the reserves at Saints and never played again for the club.

It was a dramatic fall from grace – Foster had scored 25 tries and kicked 151 goals the previous campaign to be Super League’s top points scorer – but he began his road to recovery during a cathartic loan at Hull FC towards the end of last season.

There he showed plenty of that earlier promise, featuring in nine consecutive games, including a record-breaking 70-6 win at Bradford, scoring five tries and kicking 45 goals as they reached the play-offs.

There was a chance to sign with the ambitious East Riding outfit permanently plus other top-flight clubs and union options, but, instead, he opted for a one-year deal at the Bulls, a team rising from the ashes of administration.

Foster heads back to Hull tonight and admitted: “What a club they are. I didn’t realise just how big when I first went but Hull really kick-started my career and I owe them a hell of a lot. There’ll be a lot of respect on Friday.

“There won’t be any celebrations if I score. I really appreciate what they’ve done for me and my career so I’ll be showing a bit of class.

“Hull was an option but, believe it or not, as soon as I sat down with (Bradford boss) Franny (Cummins) I just loved everything he said to me.

“When I looked in his eyes, I genuinely believed him.

“Bradford are a club probably in a similar position to where I am – they want to prove people wrong and make a fresh start.”

If Sunday’s stunning opening 40-6 destruction of Wakefield is anything to go by, the early signs are good but Foster insisted: “We’re not surprised. We trained really, really well and were expecting big things at the start.

“We’re not too far off teams like Saints and Hull. I’m not daft; if you went through the team sheet you probably wouldn’t swap too many of ours for those at Warrington, Wigan or St Helens. But it’s not all about names.

“It’s about believing in yourself and kicking on and that’s what we’ve got here. Franny’s created a brilliant team spirit.”

Hull, of course, are looking for a reaction after succumbing 36-6 at champions Leeds a week ago.

“You could tell when the cameras went to Peter Gentle how shocked he looked,” said Foster, about the Hull coach.

“I imagine they’ll have had as intense a week as you can get. It’s going to be ferocious on Friday.

“It’s going to be a different type of game altogether but we can’t wait to test ourselves.”

Foster, meanwhile, hopes to reprise his role of makeshift full-back after showing some real enterprise there on Sunday.

“Sometimes it is frustrating just being stood out on the wing,” he said. “I do believe I’ve got a good skill foundation to build on. I know I’m not there yet and aren’t going to talk myself up after one game as some Sam Tomkins or Billy Slater.

“But I’ve been watching those types of people in the off-season, collecting different things and doing my homework.”

Just like he has been in the world of business, too.