With the beginning of the 2018 Super League campaign just over a month away, 2016 champions Wigan Warriors have allowed two of their first choice players to leave the club for pastures new.
Although a move away from the DW Stadium had been mooted in late 2017, McIlorum was being linked with a move to NRL side Canberra Raiders following the injury to their star hooker Josh Hodgson while on England duty. However, it is fellow Super League club Catalans Dragons who have secured the signature of the Ireland number 9 on a two year deal and, following 242 appearances for the Cherry and Whites, Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said, following a strong 2017 RLWC, that “several teams have put forward very favourable offers to Michael and we felt it right not to stand in his way.” However, McIlorum himself has suggested that he was forced out, adding “it was made clear my future was elsewhere and with interest from a couple of clubs it was agreed now was the best time to part company.” It is suggested that Thomas Leuluai will be the first choice hooker for Wigan as they aim to improve on last season’s showing where they failed to reach the end of season play offs.
Another change for the club sees centre Anthony Gelling released by the club after him making clear his desire to return to his native New Zealand in order to be nearer to his family. This follows his girlfriend being involved in a car accident earlier in the winter and, in accordance with his wishes, the club allowed him to move back to his homeland and executive director Kris Radlinski said that “we can’t have anyone here who isn’t emotionally in the right place whilst we also don’t want to see people upset. We believe Anthony to be genuine in his wishes to return home, he hasn’t got anything lined up, he simply wants to go home.” It isn’t breaking news that this move was set to happen as it has been rumoured for some time – perhaps one of the reasons why Wigan moved quickly to re-sign their former centre Dan Sarginson following him being made available by Gold Coast Titans.