FORMER Warrior Paul Johnson is playing an increasingly bigger role with his home-town club.
The ex-Great Britain international linked-up with Wigan as an assistant strength and conditioning coach a year ago when he decided to hang up his boots.
And after being impressed with his impact with the junior players, coach Shaun Wane has invited Johnson into the first-team set-up on a part-time basis, while he studies his degree.
Wane said: “Johnno is getting more and more involved. He works heavily with our juniors and he’s now getting involved in our first-team quite a bit, too.
“I like him a lot, I like the way he works. Everything he does is game-related, which suits me down to the ground.
“He’s doing his degree right now but he’s going to become a great conditioner.”
Johnson had agreed to play on in 2012 with Crusaders, but when the Welsh club’s Super League existence crumbled, he decided to hang up the boots.
He started a degree course and volunteered to help out at Wigan while he learned the ropes of a new career.
A former Hindley junior, Johnson burst into the Wigan team as a teenager at Central Park – he scored the Cherry and Whites’ last try at the old ground – and in total made 120 Super League appearances for Wigan before leaving in 2003.
He went on to win silverware at Bradford and Warrington, and his international record includes a hat-trick for Great Britain against New Zealand in 2005.
“I want people like him being involved here, he had a great playing career but he also came on board for very little money, and that’s how you know someone is in it for the right reasons,” added Wane. “He has a real passion for the club.”