Wigan Warriors' James McDonnell relishing game-time on loan at York

Young forward James McDonnell is counting down to his second game in eight days – as many games as he has played in more than a year at Wigan.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:05 pm
James McDonnell

The 21-year-old last week joined Championship outfit York on loan to gain some valuable game-time.

He made his debut in Sunday’s victory at Widnes and faces Oldham this weekend, hoping to catch the eye of his Warriors coaches from afar.

McDonnell made his Wigan debut in a young side beaten by St Helens last September, and also figured in a friendly at Salford in pre-season.

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But with the reserves shelved this year as a cost-cutting measure during the pandemic, he was unable to play any more matches until the loan move arose.

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“Wigan is a very competitive squad to get into and having not played for so long, I need some games under my belt,” said the ex-St Judes junior.

“Hopefully if the time comes that I get in (at Wigan) I’m going to have some experience and match-fitness, rather than having not played in ages.

“Until the weekend I’d only played two games since the first lockdown, against Saints I was centre and in the friendly at Salford I started at centre, when my best position is in the back row.

“It’s been tough with no reserves for a lot of lads in my position.”

McDonnell was thrilled when York showed interest, having worked with coach James Ford in the England academy set-up. Ford was the assistant coach when they beat the touring Australian Schoolboys.

“I was delighted when York were interested, I knew Fordy and I like the way he coaches,” says the forward.

"I got injured about 10 minutes into the first England game which wasn't ideal, but at least I got my shirt!"

McDonnell trained with his new team-mates twice before his debut on Sunday, where he played 80 minutes in a 35-14 win.

“It was strange because I’m still getting to know the lads – luckily they had the names on the back of their shirts, so I was calling players by their surnames!” he added.

“But they seem a good set of lads. I was a bit rusty, obviously. The first half was really about blowing the cobwebs off but it was just good to get out there playing again.”