Liam Marshall owes a huge debt of gratitude to tomorrow’s Challenge Cup opponents - admitting he may have quit rugby league if it wasn’t for Swinton.
The winger has been one of the finds of this Super League season, climbing to joint-fourth on the tryscoring charts with 10 touchdowns.
But he doubts he would have cracked Shaun Wane’s Wigan side had he not spent last year at Championship outfit Swinton, where he scored 20 tries in 22 appearances.
Marshall had progressed through the academy at his hometown club but at the end of 2015, was not offered a full-time deal.
He was kept on to play in the reserves, but spent the bulk of the campaign with the Lions.
He said: “Swinton gave me a big lifeline, I got back to playing rugby and enjoying it.
“I played well there and that’s what got me my contract here, so I do owe them a lot.
“Had I not gone there last year, I honestly wouldn’t know where I’d be right now. I may not even be playing rugby any more if it wasn’t for Swinton.
“There were only a few reserve games (last year at Wigan), and I don’t think I would have progressed from playing two games, then having a month off... you’re not really getting better like that.
“If it wasn’t for Swinton, I’m not sure if I’d be playing at all.”
For that reason, trainee accountant Marshall admits he has a soft-spot for tomorrow’s round six opponents.
“They’ve got good staff, good fans... even now I get messages from them, so it’s a special place for me,” he said.
“They’re a good bunch of lads.
“When I first went there, I was a bit surprised how committed they are and how professional they are as a club. They set really high standards of themselves.
“They want to promote a similar culture and play a similar way to we do. We’ve got to be ready and switched on for this game.”
Wigan have a dual-registration arrangement with Swinton, allowing fringe players to turn out for the Championship club on a flexible, week-to-week basis.
While there will be no Warriors players in the opposition ranks tomorrow, coach John Duffy has a clutch of ex-Wigan juniors.
“They have some good players. They’re not the biggest side but they make up for it with their skills,” added Marshall.
“Their halfback Chris Atkin is a quality player, I really rate him, his backrower Connor Dwyer is a threat and the winger Shaun Robinson, too.
“They have quality throughout their side.”
The quarter-final draw will be made after tomorrow’s match. If Wigan go through and are drawn at home, the tie is likely to be moved to Leigh to accommodate pitch maintenance work at the DW Stadium.