Burke cherishes a dream debut

Debutant Greg Burke tackled by Stefan Ratchford and watched by a bloodied Matty Smith
Debutant Greg Burke tackled by Stefan Ratchford and watched by a bloodied Matty Smith

GREG Burke admits it was “a dream come true” to make his debut for Wigan.

The 19-year-old faced a baptism of fire in his first-team bow last Friday night, coming off the bench at half-time to face Warrington in front of a 20,000 crowd and the Sky Sports cameras.

Burke acquitted himself well for Shaun Wane’s outfit, and didn’t look out of place against – and alongside – seasoned Super League stars, making a solid defensive contribution to help the Warriors battle to a nail-biting 17-17 draw.

“I was supposed to be the 18th man, but the day before Waney told me Paul Prescott was out I got the call, so I was over the moon,” the former Ince Rose Bridge junior said.

“I’ve been 18th man a few times, you warm-up but you pretty much know you’ll not be playing. So when Waney told me I was in, I was made up – I called my mum and dad and told them the news.

“I was really excited, but when I woke up the next day I was like, ‘Wow, I’m playing Warrington’ and I was a bit nervous. It was good to be thrown in at the deep end and playing against blokes like Adrian Morley, Lee Briers and Ben Westwood.

“It was a bit of a dream come true.”

Briers had the final say of a derby which ignited the new Super League campaign, slotting over a late drop-goal to wipe out Matty Smith’s 72nd minute effort which had put the home side 17-16 ahead.

“It would have been perfect to get the win, to got so close, and if anything it felt like we lost a point rather than gained one,” said Burke, a former St John Fisher High pupil who was thrust into action at half-time when Jack Hughes suffered a leg injury.

“It was fast, but as soon as I made my first carry and tackle, I felt comfortable.”

Burke was one of 11 academy-graduates in the 17-man panel, and another three – Prescott, Chris Tuson and Harrison Hansen – were on the sidelines.

The hard-running back-rower impressed during the pre-season friendlies.

And after tasting the big-time, he could retain his place in the squad for the trip to Huddersfield this weekend as Wane waits to discover the severity of Prescott’s back problem. Hughes could also be in doubt with a bang to his leg.

JOSH Rooney scored a hat-trick as Wigan’s Under-19s beat their Warrington counterparts 32-6 on Saturday.