Jake Shorrocks and Liam Marshall have only played two Wigan games together – but their link goes much further back.
They were in the same year together at Standish High, and Shorrocks was even responsible for luring – some say bribing! – Marshall into rugby league.
Now, they are both living the dream with starting roles for the Warriors as they aim to continue their revival.
“Marshy was really into his football when he was at school, rather than rugby” recalled Shorrocks.
“But we used to play tick ‘n pass at dinnertime and he had great feet – he still has – and so I invited him down to come and train at Shevington Sharks, where I played.
“He wasn’t so keen at first, so I told him I’d give him a tenner if he played for us. Without that, I don’t think he’d have come down!
“Did I pay him? No, I had no money.”
Owing mainly to Shorrocks’ serious knee injury in 2017, their promising Warriors careers didn’t overlap until last week, and they have now featured in the last two matches – victories against Salford and Castleford.
“It’s good to get the chance to play alongside a mate, and it’s good to see Jake showing what he can do now,” said Marshall, who plays on the right edge with Shorrocks.
Incredibly, Wigan’s left edge also features two other players who were school team-mates – in St Edmund Arrowsmith alumni Joe Burgess and Oliver Gildart.
And to continue the links, Gildart also played alongside both Shorrocks and Marshall for St Pat’s. “When our Shevy Sharks team folded, Marshy and I went to St Pats when we were about 13 – and Gilly was in that side,” said Shorrocks.
“We won a couple of national Championships together. It’s funny, we played for the Wigan and Leigh service area team and I was at centre and Gilly was at halfback, but we switched positions after that.”
It was in another position – hooker – which earned Shorrocks a run in the side in the build-up to the 2016 Grand Final. The next year was wiped out by injury and last season he struggled for form and confidence during games for the reserves or on loan at Salford.
But after impressing Adrian Lam in pre-season, he soon earned a bench spot and he has started the last four games in his preferred position, halfback, in the absence of injured Jarrod Sammut.
“Last year, I wasn’t playing my best after coming back from injury, I wasn’t very confident and Lammy sensed that – I’m much more confident in my game now,” says the 23-year-old.
“I used to beat myself up if I made an error but Lammy’s big on moving on, forgetting it, playing what’s next. He’s great at instilling confidence in you.”
Shorrocks is hoping he can do enough to cling on to the spot when Sammut returns from injury. He can press his claim with a starring role against lowly London on Thursday.
“We needed the result at Salford and the Cas game, and if we knock another off it’s three on the bounce going into the Challenge Cup tie,” he added.
“With the Easter games, there are lads who have been playing at 70 or 80 per cent, so it’ll be good to have the time to properly prepare for the Warrington game.”