PAUL Sculthorpe often gets told he looks in good enough nick to resume his rugby league playing career.

But when those remarks come from Prince Charles, while being honoured at Buckingham Palace, could it be time for Scully to sit up and take notice?

Collecting his MBE for services to rugby league and charity last week, Sculthorpe greeted the Prince’s compliment with the charm and broad smile which once earned him a contract as the face of Gillette.

At 35 and athletically built as a result of the punishing training regime he puts himself through, he would probably still be fit enough to turn out on the rugby field.

But these days, those demanding workouts are for the extreme endurance charity challenges he has thrown himself into since a succession of injuries curtailed his glittering Saints career in 2008.

St Helens Star: Scully has been Steve Prescott's 'wingman' on numerous challenges.

  • Scully has been Steve Prescott's 'wingman' on numerous challenges

Life after professional sport, particularly when a career is cut, can be notoriously difficult for athletes to cope with.

The surges in adrenaline, the buzz of a challenge and the enjoyment of dressing room banter are sorely missed by many, like Sculthorpe, who scaled the peak of their professions.

But that has not been the case with this former Saints skipper
After travelling to London with his family last week to collect the honour, he described how the charity work he has embarked on in support of his friends, Steve Prescott and Andy Johnson, has left him fulfilled and stemmed that aching need for physical competition.

In fact the former loose-forward, a back-to-back rugby league Man of Steel and former Great Britain captain, also revealed that the recognition for the charity endeavours meant more to him than the plaudits for his playing career.

St Helens Star: Glory days: Lifting the Challenge Cup at Twickenham

  • Glory days: Lifting the Challenge Cup at Twickenham with Saints

He said: “The honour is right up there with anything else I have achieved.
“For me to be recognised for the stuff away from rugby meant so much. At the end of the day when you play sport you get something back.“

With this charity work I’m not doing it for recognition, I’m doing it to help a good friends of mine in Steve (Prescott) and AJ (of Joining Jack).

“I just want to help them and do the charities proud. I’ve always supported Steve – but it’s not just me the whole rugby community pulled together.”
Sculthorpe was a 6ft 3ins battering ram of a player who blended raw power with a silky touch with ball in hand.

In many ways his pursuits off the field since retiring – whether that be boxing, rowing the English Channel, cycling up peaks or running marathons – have mirrored that all-action playing style.

He added: “It probably came at a good time for me because I was finishing my playing career and it helped fill a void...and ended up with me probably training more now than when I played.

“People ask do I miss the banter with the lads in the dressing room. But I still get that at the gyms where I train and see the Saints lads regularly because I work for the club.

“What I did miss was the competitive side of challenging myself and that is probably why I got into doing things like the boxing.

“That challenge of competing is what I’ve really enjoyed, but it has also been about giving Steve company out on the road giving the challenges a greater profile.”

St Helens Star: Leader: Captaining Great Britain at Knowsley Road.

  • Leader: Captaining Great Britain at Knowsley Road.

The father-of-three spent the weekend in London with the children, his wife Lindsay, and both sets of their parents.

At the palace he spent time chatting with Ryder Cup golfer Luke Donald, who was the other sportsman to be honoured last Friday, and was his typical laid-back self despite the pomp and ceremony.

Scully, who grew up in Oldham, added: “I was allowed three guests to be in the audience.

“I had Lindsay there, and it meant a lot to have my parents there after everything they have done for me through my career.

“I spoke to Prince Charles and he asked me about retiring and about how we (St Helens) were doing and the coaching classes I run.

“He even said to me ‘you look fit enough to still play’...(but) he was great, and made me feel really comfortable.

“It was a lovely weekend to have all the family down there. The reaction from everybody up here since it was announced in the New Year’s honours list has been mega from all rugby league fans and extra special from the Saints supporters who I have a really good relationship with.”

In seven weeks he will be cycling across the Alps as part of a Sir Bradley Wiggins-inspired mission for Joining Jack, and leading a team up Mount Kilimanjaro is on the horizon for August.

Those competitive fires that rage mean he won’t be standing still anytime time soon.