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Kilner: I loved it


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  • Ben Kilner reflects on his Wigan Warriors debut in the derby game against St Helens at the AJ Bell Stadium.
  • The 21-year-old talks about stepping up to the first team, showing what he’s about and feeling part of a family within the squad.
  • Kilner: “It’s been a tough grind, but I loved it.”

Ben Kilner says he learnt a lot from his Wigan Warriors debut and believes he showed what he’s capable of despite being on the losing side.  

Adrian Lam gave six Academy players their first senior appearances in the 0-42 defeat against St Helens at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Kilner was pleased with how he performed in his debut game and believes he demonstrated what he can do.

He said: “It’s been a tough grind, but I loved it. I have been working for it since I was 16-years-old and I signed for the Scholarship team. I think I put in a good performance and showed what my abilities are, I aim for strong running and stand out when I’m carrying the ball.”

IMG_9441-1024x683.jpgKilner (right) in action vs St Helens.

With his first appearance now under his belt, the 21-year-old wants to focus on the future and learn from the defeat.

“I think I have learnt that there is a step up in the speed of the actual game, and that I need to take ownership of myself to become fitter and train that little bit harder. There is that massive hunger, now I’ve got a taste of it, where I want to play as often as I can to gain more experience and eventually kick on to make a name for myself.

“It was good getting up to the level with the bigger lads. Anyone can play at Reserves, but as soon as you jump into first team it shows who’s ready and who’s not. It’s made me realise I need to work that bit harder to be up there with the best.”

After being patient and waiting for his opportunity, Kilner now believes things have worked out for the best.

“There has been many an opportunity where I could’ve made my debut, whether it was here or at Toronto, but through injuries and lockdown there has been a few bizarre things that have come in the way of it. It was tough but I feel it paid off and has put me in good stead for the future, as well as maybe getting my name out there with Lammy (Adrian Lam).

🤩 A record for most Wigan debuts in one game during the @SuperLeague era last night! 🍒⚪

Congratulations @UmylaH, Harry Rushton, @bkilner12, @JamesMc____, @KaipearcePaul and Sam Halsall! 👏#WWRL pic.twitter.com/4QMMGI4SLS

— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪ (@WiganWarriorsRL) September 30, 2020

“Fans and Sky can give me as much praise as they want, but I just want to be happy with myself and if I’ve put in a good performance then it’ll come thick and often. Hopefully I can keep fans, coaches and especially the lads happy so they can put their trust in me that I can play the big games and contribute.”

Growing up in Yorkshire, Kilner did not truly understand the rivalry between Wigan and St Helens, but admits he now appreciates what it’s all about.

“Being from Cas (Castleford) I never really understood the rivalry (with St Helens) that much until I came over, but everyone in the town was bigging it up. As soon as you play in it you realise everyone is out for blood and you step up your game.”

6⃣ 𝗗𝗘𝗕𝗨𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗧𝗦 😍👏

3⃣4⃣ Kai Pearce-Paul
3⃣5⃣ Sam Halsall
3⃣6⃣ James McDonnell
3⃣7⃣ Harry Rushton
3⃣9⃣ Umyla Hanley
4⃣0⃣ Ben Kilner#WWRL #SLWigStH pic.twitter.com/JiXESCIPhX

— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪ (@WiganWarriorsRL) September 29, 2020

As well as making his debut in one of the Warriors’ biggest games of the season, he also did it alongside five other new debutants.

“It was outstanding, it means a lot more knowing my best mates where beside me and helped massively. I think everyone was nervous before the game but looking around and seeing lads who you have known since a young age, I have grown a family bond with them, so it was real special moment.”

Kilner admits that the advice from the senior member of the squad has helped him in the build-up to the game.

“For the past couple of weeks, they have been pulling me to one side. Clubby (Tony Clubb), Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) and Benny (Ben Flower), told me it’s not about the performance necessarily, it’s about enjoying yourself and gaining the experience, which helped me to relax a bit more and play the game I wanted to.

“I was more at ease that they had spoken to me, saying ‘do what you do in training,’ which gave me the self-relief to push on and not worry about the outcome.”

Whilst he was anxious when he first stepped up to train with the first team, the prop is now comfortable with his surroundings and feels at home within the squad.

“Coming into it at Under-19s level, I was nervous at first. It sounds odd, but I never really wanted to train with the first team as I had the fear of almost messing up the session. As soon as you’re in that tight-knit group, they take you under their wing, which makes you feel comfortable.

“Now that I’m there every day, it’s like a mini family, especially with the Covid stuff going on, we have been speaking constantly and having the togetherness that keeps me going.”

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.

Buy now by clicking HERE.

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The post Kilner: I loved it appeared first on Wigan Warriors Blog.

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