MIKE McIlorum was hailed as one of the world’s best hookers after signing an improved long-term deal with Wigan.
He has agreed a four-year deal which runs until the end of 2017.
The 25-year-old was already under contract for the next three seasons, but has been offered better terms to recognise his progression, as well as a one year extension.
The England international played a central role in Wigan’s trophy double and was one of their better performers in the World Club Challenge defeat against Sydney Rooster last month.
Coach Shaun Wane said: “He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever come across, and he’s up there with the best hookers in the world – without a doubt. He’s got what he deserves.”
McIlorum’s pledge ends whispers that Salford were keen to sign him, but Wane insisted: “That had nothing to do with this.”
The combative No.9 says he has not considered leaving his adopted home.
“I thoroughly enjoy playing for Wigan and the successes of the last few seasons have made me even hungrier to achieve more with the club,” he said.
“I am pleased to have put pen to paper on an extended deal with Wigan and am really looking forward to the rest of the season ahead. I am confident we can build as a team on our achievements.”
McIlorum surfaced on Wigan’s radar as a Leeds junior. He moved over to the area as a teenager, and made swift progress through the ranks, debuting in 2007.
After serving his apprenticeship under Micky Higham and then Mark Riddell, he became Wigan’s first-choice hooker in 2011 and has grown in stature.
Capable of battling through 80 minutes, he has refined his dummy-half skills to complement his unforgiving defensive style.
“He’s 89kg and he hits like he’s 110kg, and that’s because of his heart and his desire,” said Wane. “When I first came he realised there were technical aspects of his game he needed to improve, and he’s done that through a lot of hard work.
“I know where he’s come from, he’s got a similar background to me, and that’s what makes it so pleasing because he has got to where he has to on his own.
“I admire him as a person and as a competitor. He has a great attitude on and off the pitch.”
This year McIlorum - who has made 166 appearances for the club - was included in a six-man leadership team, alongside Liam Farrell, who signed an improved contract last summer.
PROP Eddy Pettybourne was due to have another scan on a biceps injury today which Wigan hope will clear him to face Castleford on Sunday. He was suspended for last Sunday’s 46-24 victory against Wakefield, but couldn’t have played anyway because of the injury.
WIGAN Under-19s’ game at Castleford on Thursday has been switched to Orrell, this Saturday (2.30pm).