MICKY McIllorum has been tipped as a leading Man of Steel contender after pledging his future to Wigan.
The uncompromising hooker has signed a contract extension which runs until the end of 2019.
He’s one of the toughest players I have ever seen play the gameShaun Wane
He already had a deal until ‘2017 – agreed just a year ago – but the Warriors have rewarded him for his growing influence on the side.
And coach Shaun Wane reckons fans owe him a debt of gratitude.
He said: “He puts his body through so much for this club, and that’s why I’m so pleased he’s been given this extension.
“I watch every Super League game and I’ve not seen anyone play as consistently well as him.
“On current form, he has to be a contender for the Man of Steel Award.
“He’s one of the toughest players I have ever seen play the game (and) doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves at times.”
McIlorum is set to make his 209th Wigan appearance this Friday night against his hometown club, Leeds.
He debuted for Warriors in 2007 and has since enjoyed Grand Final and Challenge Cup honours with Wigan.
Wane first noticed his promise when he was playing for Queens against Wigan St Pat’s as a junior.
He said: “There was just something about him, he had so much energy, he whacked a few, and he’s been with me ever since – I’ve coached him at every level.
“He was a rough diamond, no doubt about that, but that’s what makes it so satisfying to see him develop into such a good player and such a good man.”
Chairman Ian Lenagan described him as “a model professional.”
Wane will name his 19-man squad today for Friday’s televised clash at Leeds.
Welsh prop Ben Flower has recovered from an injury which ruled him out of last Thursday’s win against Huddersfield, but winger Joe Burgess (knee) is still out.
He is a possibility for next Friday’s trip to Warrington. Dom Manfredi will continue in his absence.
Centre Dan Sarginson is set to undergo surgery on a troublesome hamstring injury next week.
Wane says they don’t yet have a recovery time-frame.
With less than two months to go until the Grand Final, Sarginson will be hoping for a speedy return – particularly as England play New Zealand at the end of the season.
Referee Richard Silverwood will take charge at Headingley on Friday.