Warriors take time out from training for 'community blitz'
Wigan Warriors interrupted their pre-season preparations toÂ deliver a pre-Christmas boost to the borough - by working through the night on a 'community blitz'.
Around 70 players - from superstars to youngsters - and 50 members of staff were involved in the unprecedented scheme to 'give something back'.
Vans, provided by sponsors Npower, were buzzing around the borough from 1pm yesterday until the early hours of this morning.
They visited amateur clubs, schools, care homes and community groups.
A residential house for armed forces veterans redeveloped, and they delivered new beds to a women's refuge.
In between, they met back at their Central Park headquarters for training sessions and meals - including a 4am breakfast together.
The club's executive director Kris Radlinski said: "It's really important that our players understand the importance of the jersey and the responsibilities it carries.
"We represent the people of this town.
"I can't praise the players an staff enough for their efforts. Everybody committed to the project.
"Not many sporting clubs worldwide would put their players through a 15 hour community project of such graft.
"They earned a couple of days recharge."
Among the generous donations, Sealy donated new beds for all the rooms in a women's refuge, while NPower provided the vans, tools and equipment.
Their efforts were certainly appreciated.
Warriors fan Peter Elliot, chairman of the Wigan MS therapy centre, had 'the kettle on all night' as the players gave the Marsh Green centre a lick of paint.
"It's been fantastic," he said. "If we'd have got decorators in, they'd have charged us three or four days labour.
"We're a small community charity and now, that money we would have spent can be better spent on the therapies we offer."
Among the less-strenuous tasks, Christmas decorations were put up at several schools, and some players spent time watching and discussing old games with dementia sufferers.
Each community club was given Rhino balls and a Matrix exercise bike, 188Bet donated hampers which were taken to the hospital, Bithells provided skips for the building projects, and Uncle Joe's Mintballs and Red Bull ensured their energy levels were topped up through the night!
But there was a team-building element to the 15-hour long project.
And the coaching staff were closely monitoring the players to see what leadership qualities emerged.
Coach Shaun Wane said: "This was about us finding a way of putting something back into the community, and helping out some fantastic clubs and causes.
"The lads were sore - they had wrestled and trained and coached - and they were all tired before they started.
"So they were under pressure and the coaching staff were watching them to see how they responded. I've got to say, they were brilliant."
Four pages of pictures in this week's Wigan Observer.