Brad Singleton is relishing being part of a Wigan pack whose hunger and appetite for the 2021 campaign have already been evident in pre-season.
The former Leeds Rhinos frontrower has been handed the number eight shirt by Adrian Lam this season, having joined the club ahead of schedule following Toronto’s demise last year.
He played a key role in the Warriors’ run to the Grand Final, and is now keen to go one step further this year alongside the likes of fellow forwards Liam Farrell, John Bateman and George Burgess.
The club recently revealed that backrower Farrell was the last man standing in the traditional pre-season bleep test, and he is one of several players to have caught Singleton’s eye.
“He’s just an ultimate pro,” Singleton said.
“You can see his dedication in training. Where he’s at now is all down to that hard work.
“John was in that Wigan side when I was at Leeds – I’ve played against him and with him for England Academy.
“Living in Yorkshire we’d met a few times; he was a friend of mine before and he hasn’t changed.
“He plays good rugby on the international stage and has been Down Under and has been excellent there too.
“George is just a good bloke who leads by example on and off the field.
“He’s a good role model for the younger lads and, when you’re at a club like Wigan, there’s always that conveyor belt of talent coming through.
“We’ve got some tremendous young lads here like Morgan Smithies, Ethan Havard and Oliver Partington and they just have this appetite, which is what you need in a good working pack.
“This has been my first pre-season at Wigan and I’ve just been impressed by the standard of fitness right from the first day, from the young lads who have been in a bit longer to the older ones.
“It’s been great to see.”
Singleton believes his decision to take a short-term deal on reduced wages last year has been vindicated by the fact he is already embedded in Lam’s squad ahead of the 2021 campaign.
He explained: “The deal I signed was just for two months and probably wasn’t great pay.
“But I knew I had the three years coming up, and it helped me gain the trust of the players.
“I really embraced the Wigan culture and enjoyed it, and for me to get as far as we did, and as close as we did to a Grand Final win, was incredible.
“It was disappointing, but it lays down the perfect platform for success.
“I haven’t properly watched it back, but it was intense, it was a derby with emotion, and both sides were hard to break down.
“It came down to one kick that ricocheted off the post to win it, and I hope that it’s replayed for years and years to come, because it was great to be involved in.
“Saints were worthy winners and they’ve a great bunch of lads there.
“But if you don’t win it, it always makes you hungrier the next time, and we’ve got the perfect ingredients for some success this season.
“It was my first loss in a domestic final – I hadn’t lost in Grand Finals or the Challenge Cup before, but I did lose a couple of World Club Challenges.
“I’m not saying if you win something you become complacent, but if you don’t win it always makes you hungrier.”
Singleton has another reason for motivation this year – a return to the England shirt of his youth.
The 28-year-old was England Academy captain as a teenager before playing for the Knights against Samoa in 2013.
But four years later he ran out for Ireland in the World Cup Down Under, an experience he loved after qualifying through his mother.
Now he has set his sights on an England return under Shaun Wane.
Singleton added: “I don’t mind saying it out loud – I haven’t given up on an England call up.
“It would be an honour for me.
“I know that entails a lot of hard work, being injury free and being in great form at the end of the year.
“Hopefully the long pre-season that we’re having will create the foundation for that.
“It’s something that’s more for the end of the season, but there is an aim there and I am hungry.”
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