Charnley: Leaving was toughest decision of my life

Josh Charnley will bow out at Old Trafford
Josh Charnley will bow out at Old Trafford

Josh Charnley says he’ll forever remain a Warrior as he prepares to play his last game in cherry and white – at least, for now.

The Test winger will draw a line under his Wigan career on the biggest stage this weekend with a Grand Final against Warrington.

But any suggestion the mates he’s grown up with and played alongside for the best part of a decade have seen the last of him is well wide of the mark.

“This club has been a massive part of my career and my life,” Charnley admitted.

“It’s made me the person I am now, and I’m going to miss everyone.

“But even when (Sam) Tomkins was in New Zealand, I was speaking to him pretty much every day.

Josh Charnley will be missed

Josh Charnley will be missed

“I’m going to still be around the place, it’s not like I’ll be leaving them forever.

“I’ll be living in the same house, I’ll still be knocking around with them, winding them up. I just won’t be going into battle with them any more.”

Charnley made the decision to switch codes back in March, and he says it wasn’t a call he made lightly.

“It was a tough ask – probably the toughest decision of my life,” the 25-year-old acknowledged.

I might not like (union) after a year, I might love it. I’m going into the unknown

“It was heartbreaking to tell Waney I wasn’t going to sign a new contract, that I was going elsewhere.

“I didn’t have anyone influencing me, telling me what to do.

“It was my decision and I’m glad I made it. There’s a new window open for me, and if I don’t make it then I’ll take it on the chin myself.

“I’d thought about it for a while, wondering what it would be like playing for England.

“I was lucky enough to have that option and it came at the right time for me.”

He is unsure whether tomorrow’s Grand Final will be his last ever game of rugby league.

“I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I’ve committed to Sale for three years, I might not like it after a year, I might love it.

I’m going into the unknown.”

After this weekend he will have a two-week before before starting work at the Premiership outfit, who have ex-Warriors coaches Mike Forshaw and Paul Deacon on their staff.

First things first, and the small matter of a Grand Final against League Leaders’ Shield winners Warrington.

Like most of his team-mates, Charnley is close pals with several of the Wolves players, which should add extra intrigue to an already mouth-watering showpiece.

“We’ve had tough battles with them – they’ve battered us, we’ve battered them,” Charnley recognised.

“It’s strange because both teams know each other so well.

“Off the field you’re mates, but on the field you want to take each other’s heads off, because it’s best for the team.

“Once it’s game day it’s game day, and once the whistle goes you’re back to being mates again.”