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In focus: Wigan’s six new debutants


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  • We take a closer look at the six youngsters who are making their debuts against St Helens tonight.
  • Kai Pearce-Pail, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell, Harry Rushton, Umyla Hanley and Ben Kilner are all set to make their first appearances for the first team.
  • Wigan Warriors vs St Helens (AJ Bell Stadium, Tuesday 28th September, K.O. 7:45pm).

Tonight’s game against St Helens at the AJ Bell Stadium (K.O. 7:45pm) will see six youngsters make their debuts for Wigan Warriors.

Kai Pearce-Pail, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell, Harry Rushton, Umyla Hanley and Ben Kilner are all set to make their first appearances for the first team.

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To help you get to know the new faces a little better, we have taken a closer look at the six youngsters who are making their debuts… 

Kai Pearce-Paul

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London-born Kai Pearce-Paul joined the Warriors at the start of 2020 on a four-year contract. Raised in Bromley, in the south-east of the capital, the 19-year-old first played rugby league with amateur club, Croydon Hurricanes. The second-row was signed up by the London Broncos Academy and impressed with a series of strong performances in their Under-19s side. He has also represented Lancashire in the Academy Origin series. So far this season, Pearce-Paul has featured in three Reserve games, and has also been studying a Sports and Exercise Science degree at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) alongside his rugby.

Sam Halsall

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Sam Halsall, 19, has been playing rugby league since the age of six. Born in Lancaster, the centre moved to Orrell at a young age and started playing for Shevington Sharks ARLFC. In 2016, he signed for Wigan’s Scholarship, before progressing to the Under-19s in 2018 where he earned a permanent place in the side. Throughout last year’s Betfred Academy Super League, he scored eight tries and converted 13 goals in 19 games. Halsall has scored in each of the last two Academy Grand Final, helping Wigan on their way to victory. So far this year, he has played four Reserve games, scoring two tries.

James McDonnell

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Wigan-born James McDonnell has been playing rugby league since the age of five. Before signing for the Warriors in 2014, the back-rower had spent 11 years with St. Judes ARLFC. The 20-year-old has tasted success at Academy level and featured in the Under-19s Grand Final successes in 2018 and 2019. Last season he impressed, scoring 19 tries in as many games and finished as the side’s joint top scorer. McDonnell has also been involved in the national set up and was part of the England Academy side, who beat Australian Schoolboys 2-0 in a two-game series. So far in 2020, he has featured in four Reserves games, as well as being named in the 21-man squad to face Salford Red Devils back in March. He can also play at centre.

Harry Rushton

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Harry Rushton, 18, initially played rugby union growing up before switching his attention to league. Born in Blackpool, the back-rower, who can also play loose forward, first started playing the sport when he was eight-years old-when he joined Wigan St. Patricks ARLFC. At the age of 15 he moved to Shevington Sharks ARLFC, where he played at Under-15s and Under-16s level. During that time, he was signed for Wigan’s Scholarship system, and later progressed to the Academy in 2018. In 2019, he played every game in the Club’s Under-19s season, including the Grand Final. This year, he has featured in one Under-18s game and three Reserve matches, as well being named in the 21-man first team squad to face Salford Red Devils in March. The leadership qualities of Rushton have also been recognised, with the youngster captaining the England Youth team in a game against France in 2018.

Umyla Hanley

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Full-back Umyla Hanley has been playing rugby since the age of six. The son of Wigan legend, Ellery Hanley, played for Shevington Sharks ARLFC for 12 years, where he impressed and was signed up to the Warriors’ Scholarship system in 2016. His strong performances saw him named as the Club’s Under-16s Player of the Year in 2018, which saw him step up to Under-19s level the following year. The 18-year-old continued to impress as he finished as the Club’s joint top scorer in the Academy Super League with 19 tries, as the team won the competition. So far in 2020, Hanley, who has represented England at Under-16s and Under-18s level, has played three Reserves game and has scored twice.

Ben Kilner

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Two-time Academy Super League winner Ben Kilner has enjoyed success since joining Wigan’s Scholarship System in 2015. Born in Normanton, Wakefield, the 21-year-old got into rugby league after enjoying it more than union whilst at junior school. After playing for Oulton Raiders for ten years, he caught the eye of the Warriors. Since joining the Club, Kilner has featured in the 2017 and 2018 Academy Grand Final victories, although his game time has been restricted through injury. In 2019, he spent time on loan with Dewsbury Rams and Rochdale Hornets, for two months each. So far this year, he has featured in two Reserves games, where he scored one try, as well as joining Toronto Wolfpack on loan in February, but did not make any appearances due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Fancy a face mask to match your favourite shirt? Three fantastic designs are now in stock at just £5 each and we’re also donating £1 from each sale of the yellow alternative kit design to our charity partners North West Air Ambulance.

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The post In focus: Wigan’s six new debutants appeared first on Wigan Warriors Blog.

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