I wish I'd returned to Wigan Warriors, admits Ryan Hoffman
The Australian forward was in his mid-20s when he made the switch in 2011.
Hoffman broke into the professional ranks with Melbourne. But when they needed to shed some stars to ease salary cap issues, he reunited with Michael Maguire – the former assistant at the Storm – for one year... even though it meant freezing his representative career.
“I’m a massive rugby league nerd – I was the kid who got up at 3am to watch the Challenge Cup Final, Martin Offiah running through Leeds, I remember watching that in my lounge room,” Hoffman told the Outlawed RL podcast.
“I always wanted to go over there and when Madge was coaching at Wigan, he asked how I’d feel about coming for a year while Melbourne sorted everything out.
“I was a bit unsure because I was trying to get back into the Origin side and I thought, ‘Does going to Super League spell the end of my Origin career?’
“But I took the plunge and it is hands down the best decision I ever made in rugby league. I absolutely loved it.
“I absolutely loved everything about that year. My wife and I travelled through Europe before we got to Wigan and then to play at arguably the most famous rugby league club in the UK, with the history behind it, the Cherry and White, and be in that small town atmosphere.
“The first day I got there, I was picked up by Shaun Wane, he dropped us off at our place and I drove up to Tesco to get some things for the house.
“An old lady came up to me and said, ‘You’re that new Australian? If you don’t beat St Helens I’ll take you to the airport myself’, and walked off! I thought, ‘Right, this is rugby league in Wigan’.
“The players were great, the town was great, I loved it.
“And I would have loved to have gone back.”
Hoffman revealed he was close to signing for Catalans Dragons during the summer of 2017, while he was at New Zealand Warriors. But the French outfit were flirting with relegation at the time and, instead, he returned to Melbourne for a swansong campaign in ‘18.
Still, he treasures the one year he spent in England which included winning the Challenge Cup with a 28-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
“Wembley was the big bucklet-list thing I wanted to tick off. I’m getting goosebumps now thinking about it,” said Hoffman, who now has a coaching role at the Storm.
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