Third time unlucky for young Wigan Warriors prop

Prop Ben Kilner has more reason than most youngsters to be keen to get his chance – after being denied a Super League debut on three occasions.
Ben Kilner in training before the lockdownBen Kilner in training before the lockdown
Ben Kilner in training before the lockdown

The academy product was on the brink of breaking into the Wigan side last summer at a time when Adrian Lam was missing several frontline players – only for injury to rule him out.

Then, earlier this year, Kilner and fellow forward Jack Wells left the club to join Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack on a month-long loan.

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Kilner was in Brian McDermott’s squad to play at Leeds – but a shoulder problem forced him to withdraw.

He recovered and was on course to finally get his chance in the big-time, only for the coronavirus pandemic to put the campaign on hold.

Kilner said: “I know I’m close to getting my chance, I probably should have had it by now but these things just keep cropping up.

“I was hoping to make my debut last year against Catalans but I got injured.

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“Then I went to Toronto and I needed an injection in my shoulder, so I had to withdraw.

“There was talk of extending the loan and I thought I’d finally get my chance, and then this happened.”

The ex-Oulton Raiders junior is now at home with his family near Castleford, and though he didn’t get the chance to play with Toronto, he enjoyed the experience - and training alongside Sonny Bill Williams.

“It was surreal, really, because he’s been No.1 all my life,” he said. “When we got there, the first person we saw when we walked in was Sonny, he came over and gave us a hug and was really welcoming.

“We did a month with them and it was a good experience.

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“You can tell they are new to Super League, the sessions weren’t as intense as they are at Wigan, but I really enjoyed it.”

Kilner, who joined Wigan’s scholarship as a 14-year-old, is trying to maintain his fitness with improvised sessions at home.

He added: “I’ve no weights at home so I’ve been using packs of water and things like that – anything I can get my hands on!"

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