Ex-Wigan Warriors' Jake Shorrocks enjoying 'fresh start' at Newcastle Thunder
He headed up to the North East at the back end of 2020 to join the Championship club after struggling for game-time at Wigan
Shorrocks says after playing for the Warriors for so long, he wanted to begin a new chapter of his career and was instantly convinced by Newcastle’s approaches.
And after the opening few rounds of the campaign he has no regrets about his decision. He said: “I needed a fresh start to put my injuries behind me and get a full season under my belt, playing regularly as a six or a seven.
Having the chance to play under Eamon (O’Carroll) and Denis (Betts) is something I really wanted to do, and I’m really enjoying it.
“There were a couple of other teams interested, but after one phone call with Newcastle, I was sold, because of what they are putting in place to match their ambition and where they saw my place at the club.”
The 25-year-old says the project Newcastle are working towards is something that really excites him and believes those in charge will guide them in a positive direction.
Thunder are coached by Eamon O’Carroll and have another former Wigan player, Denis Betts, as director of rugby.
“It’s not a bad two people to learn from at the club. Eamon (O’Carroll) played in Super League for a long time, and he has good knowledge from working with Steven McNamara at Catalans,” he said.
“Meanwhile, Denis (Betts) has been there done it and has been a real calm head for us.
“When results aren’t going our way, he has made sure the boys are sticking to what we know and that we do the basics right. No one will shy away from our end goal, to get to Super League would be fantastic, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“We’ve not had the greatest start to the season so there’s a long way to go.”
Thunder also have another ex-Warriors half, Josh Woods, on their register while they recently welcomed Wigan’s Mitch Clark and Sam Halsall on loan spells.
They are 11th in the Championship with three wins and a draw from their opening 10 games ahead of Sunday’s trip to York City Knights, another ambitious outfit in a buzzing city.
Newcastle will host the Super League Magic Weekend on September 4-5, at St James’ Park, which is also staging England’s opening World Cup match against Samoa.
Newcastle play at nearby Kingston Park and their last home game attracted a four-figure crowd.
As well as a strong set up with Thunder, a lack of playing time at Wigan also convinced Shorrocks it was the right time to move on.
“Opportunities would’ve been limited. At my age I need to be knuckling down a position and taking control of a team, which is exactly what I’m doing with Newcastle,” said Shorrocks.
After a tough time, I’m now enjoying my rugby, which is what it’s all about. Playing in my natural position is educating me, obviously the fundamentals of rugby is engraved into you at academy level, but playing regularly will help more than anything else.”
Shorrocks – credited by Liam Marshall for getting the winger into rugby league when they went to Standish High together – graduated from Wigan’s academy system and burst onto the scene with Wigan in late-2016.
He added zip from the bench, and nearly capped his debut year with a Grand Final appearance only to miss out when Sean O’Loughlin returned from injury.
But early the following season, he suffered a serious knee injury at Widnes which stalled his promising career and he couldn’t nail down a regular spot at Wigan over the following seasons.
He made just two appearances for his hometown club last season.
He still lives in Wigan and commutes to the North East for training and matches, which he believes has made the transition to a new club easier during the pandemic.
“The club have been really good and have sorted some apartments out so there is an option to stay,” he said.
“It would’ve been tough (moving to Newcastle) because I have never lived outside of Wigan, so it would’ve been one extreme to another and could’ve been an obstacle.
“The way it has worked out, I have been eased into it and gradually we are staying there more.
“I had never been to Newcastle before the first training session but it’s a cracking city and if we can develop rugby league up there it will be good for the sport as a whole.”
Despite dropping down a division, Shorrocks believes there is still strong competition in the Championship.
“It’s a lot closer than people think, every game isn’t a foregone conclusion and only a few results have been landslides,” he said. “Due to Covid happening and their being no reserves, players have filtered down because at the end of the day they need to play regular rugby.
“The more competitive the Championship is, the more players will develop.”
Shorrocks is clearly relishing the chance to play regularly at a competitive level and is now fully looking towards the future.
“I spoke to my family, and they all agreed it was the best decision all round,” he added.
“I’m not looking too far ahead but for the next few months, I want to stay injury free and start playing some really good rugby, effecting the game as much as I can.”