Joe Shorrocks flourishing after swapping Preston North End for Wigan Warriors

Joe Shorrocks has played five games since the season restartedJoe Shorrocks has played five games since the season restarted
Joe Shorrocks has played five games since the season restarted
Joe Shorrocks is making his mark in the Warrior side – after turning his back on a promising football career.

The 20-year-old has made five appearances since the season restarted.

And his muscular performances off the bench have helped keep Adrian Lam’s side on course for a double-trophy assault.

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Perhaps the biggest reflection of his progress was the fact he was one of the frontline players rested from the side which faced St Helens on Tuesday night – putting him in the frame to face Leeds in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final.

Yet it could have turned out so differently if Shorrocks had pursued his early sporting passion, which led to him earning a scholarship at Preston North End.

“I just used to play football when I was younger,” said Shorrocks.

“I played centre-back and I was doing quite well.

“It was only when I started at St Peter’s (High School in Orrell), Mr Ashton got me playing rugby league too.”

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He combined both sports for a spell – he represented Lancashire at cricket, too – before he reached a crossroads in his junior career.

“I got to a point, I think in year 10, Preston wanted me to stay on and the year later I could have moved up there and gone to college,” he said.

“But Wigan offered me a scholarship and I was enjoying rugby and playing at St Pat’s and for school, too, so I obviously chose that path.”

Ashton, deputy head at St Peter’s, is pleased to see his ex-Year 11 National title-winning captain doing so well.

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“When Joe started in Year Seven it was clear to see he was a very talented all-round sportsman,” he said.

“Although he didn’t play rugby out of school, he became a key member of the school team. After making the tough decision to focus on rugby, he has gone from strength to strength.

“The progress he has made in such a short time is phenomenal – but not a surprise to those who know him.

"To see Joe and the other ex-pupils doing so well makes everyone at St Peter’s very proud.”

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Given the salaries offered to footballers, particularly in the top two tiers, does Shorrocks ever consider what might have been?

“It’s a lot harder to break into it at football,” said Shorrocks, no relation to team-mate Jake.

“I’m happy with the decision I made. I’ve already played more games this year than I thought I would.

“The more I play, the more confident I get.”

Shorrocks’ preferred role is loose forward and he could be a long-term successor to the No.13 role.

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But his focus is very-much on the present, and the prospect of helping Wigan reach their first Challenge Cup Final since 2017. They face Leeds on Saturday.

“It’d be personally massive for me if I got the chance to play in this,” he said.

“I’ve already had some big games but a Challenge Cup semi-final would be a step up.”