How Zach Eckersley prepared for dream Wembley appearance with Wigan Warriors


JUST over a week ago, the last thought that might have occurred to Wigan youngster Zach Eckersley was that he would be playing in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

But then, when regular centre Adam Keighran was suspended for three matches following his red card in the league game at Warrington, the possibility suddenly arose that Eckersley could be playing on a national stage and scoring the first Wigan try in their 18-8 victory.

“It’s been a bit surreal, as when I started the year the last thing I was expecting was playing in this game,” Eckersley, 20, told League Express.

“Everything happens for a reason and I feel really bad for Adam.

“But credit to him – he’s helped me out with everything I’ve done this week.

“In fact Matty (Peet, coach) and all the boys have got around me and I’ve loved every minute.

“Matty called me Monday night after all the stuff emerged about the bans.

“He told me I’d be playing and since then I’ve been so excited but nervous as well, which is understandable.

“It’s only my fifth appearance and first in the Challenge Cup.”

And when he scored his try his nerves began to disappear and he credits Waterhead, his junior club in Oldham, for his success.

“When the game started I got involved and (after the try) when the fans roared I didn’t know how to feel, then it came up as a try and I was just buzzing.

“There was always a guaranteed winner from Waterhead as Josh (Thewlis) was on the other side and we both came from there.

“It’s a great club – it’s amazing how many players have come from there. Thanks to all the coaches that helped me come through when I was a kid.

“I’m from Springhead – Saddleworth – and Kev (Sinfield) is from around there, so it was a sort of testament to Rob – Kev’s best mate and a great player.

“Obviously everyone dreams of scoring a try at Wembley, so it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to celebrate with the boys.

“We spoke during the interval when we were ten points up, saying that if they don’t score then we win the game and we just ground it out from there.

“The club looked after me and helped sort out tickets for the game – I have a big family and I think there were 17 members here at the end.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,434 (June 10, 2024)

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