Wigan coach Shaun Wane has paid tribute to his hooker Michael McIlorum on the eve of his Testimonial game against Leigh Centurions at the Leigh Sports Village on Sunday.
McIlorum celebrates ten years in the Wigan team in 2017 and has many activities scheduled to celebrate his feat, beginning with a game christened as “The Battle of the Borough”.
Wane named his squad earlier in the week, with several first team players set for their first run-out of 2017.
“It’s a big day for Micky, he means a lot to us all and the service he has given this club is immense, so we want to give him a good day,” Wane told Wiganwarriors.com.
“We’ll put a strong team out in the first half and then look at some younger players in the second half, so I’ll learn a lot in both halves. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mcilorum spent much of 2016 in the treatment room after breaking and dislocating his ankle last February against Brisbane. He is still yet to fully recover and Wane says he won’t be able to take part in the game.
“The romantic side of me said to get him out there and playing. I’d love for him to run out and do something, but at the end of the day I want Micky fit to play,” added Wane.
“I know the fans will still turn out in great numbers whether or not.
“I feel sorry for him, he just wants to play. It’s a big year for him and he’s desperate to get back and play for us, but it’s not to be just yet. It’s going to be over a year since he last played (when he returns) so we’re going to have to give him some time to get back into it and get him back to full training before we decide if we can pick him.”
Leigh have also named a strong squad for the game as preparations continue ahead of their return to Super League.
“This will be a strong team,” said Wane.
“Leigh are a strong club, they’re in the same competition as us now so we now we’re in for a tough game.
“I know a lot of their players really well, they’ll all be having a dig and testing us, there’s no doubt about that. I’m only interested in what we do though, I want to see us creating some good habits ahead of the games against Salford and Cronulla.”
A full report from this game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express, which is available online and at all good newsagents.