Warrington will have to wait another six months before Greg Inglis dons the famous primrose and blue.
Yet, while the Wolves will hope the rest of Super League feels the force of GI once he pulls on the club’s famous colours, they have already experienced first-hand the power and influence of their new recruit.
Inglis’ decision to step out of retirement to join the Wolves was a huge shock and gained publicity on both sides of the world, and his new club reaped the rewards.
When Warrington revealed his signing, their social media boomed. Across their platforms, Inglis’ message was viewed 200,000 times. On Twitter alone, the clip reached 500,000 people and Inglis himself was trending second in the UK and Australia.
📞 Calling all Warrington fans
2021 just got a whole lot better 😀#GI2021 pic.twitter.com/tLRMw86BTl
— Warrington Wolves (@WarringtonRLFC) May 19, 2020
But they enjoyed a more tangible impact. In the aftermath of the announcement, the club’s online retail sales soared by 70%.
“We expected there would be a real impact but we were pleasantly surprised with how big it was,” the club’s CEO, Karl Fitzpatrick, told TotalRL.
“It trended second in the UK, we were disappointed it didn’t get to number one but it showed just how big his media values are.”
The reaction has enthused Fitzpatrick and the club’s media and marketing team, which has been praised for their innovative attempts to push the club into the mainstream.
Cross-sport partnerships using their mascot, Wolfie, have been among their biggest success stories, which aided towards a 12.5% increase on their Super League attendances last season.
Now, they have one of rugby league’s most recognisable stars on his way. The challenge for them now is to make sure they get full value out of Inglis not only on the pitch but off it, too.
“We’ve been discussing how we can maximise it. We’ve got some ideas in mind, we could even have a GI project to maximise his profile through brand awareness.
“There is a strategic plan, but one of the biggest positives for us was that supporters from other clubs were getting in touch and congratulating us on his signing and saying they couldn’t wait to see him play. That was a great indication for us.
“It’s an opportunity to increase the exposure of our commercial partners, to engage on different platforms and tell his story. He’s suffered from mental health which has been well-documented and it adds another band to his story. He’s coming back from mental illness and that is a very powerful story for us to tell.
“His signing ticks a number of boxes for us and we’re all looking forward to working with him and having someone of his stature and talent at our club.”