MIKE McIlorum has vowed to keep a lid on his aggressive streak when Wigan enter the Headingley cauldron tonight.
The hooker was sent off twice last year and banned for the play-offs because of his discipline.
But this season the 25-year-old has been made a member of Warriors’ leadership team, and is aiming to be the model pro’. He said: “There’s more responsibility on my shoulders and I’m more accountable now. Being in the leadership group has upped my game – I can’t be telling a kid to do something if I’m not doing it myself.
“I’m 25 and there are young players coming through that are looking up to you.”
McIlorum, Wigan’s top tackler last season with 746, has been in strong form during the opening rounds.
And he admits being invited into the leadership team - brought in to assist skipper Sean O’Loughlin - has made him realise he is now one of the more experienced players.
“I was asked if I’d like to be in it and I thought I could contribute in that sense,” he said. “It’s a great honour. You don’t see yourself as a leader but if you look at the games I’ve played I’m one of the more senior players.”
McIlorum will be as keen as anyone to make his mark in tonight’s Sky-televised blockbuster.
The Leeds-born hooker was on the Headingley as a junior, and still has many friends who cheer for the Rhinos.
In fact, it was only due to a twist of fate that he surfaced on Wigan’s radar.
“I played for Queens, but they ended up getting kicked out of the league in Yorkshire, so we had to play in Lancashire,” he remembered.
“It was something to do with Stanningley and Milford joining together - not for the reason everyone would think!
“So we were travelling over to Wigan and St Helens and places like that, and I managed to get seen and Wigan asked if I’d like to come here.
“Dean Bell was head of youth then and he watched a game between Queens and Wigan St Patrick’s, where I had quite a good game.
“Darrell Goulding played in that team - he reminds me that I caught him with quite a bad tackle then, he never lets me forget that!
“Maybe that’s how Wigan signed me!
“Leeds offered me a contract at the same time as Wigan but the deal they put in place for me was better and I felt like it was right decision.
“Wigan put me up with a family over here, which made it a lot easier. I felt like I wanted to get out of Leeds and do something different and it’s turned out all right so far.
“I go back to Leeds every other week or so to see my mum and family but my life is pretty much over here now.”