AMID the farewells and fanfare surrounding the Grand Final, one of Wigan’s former servants left the country today with little fuss.
Cameron Phelps – a member of Wigan’s squad in the breakthrough 2010 season – has left after nearly eight years in Super League to return to his native Australia.
He arrived at Wigan in 2008, starred for the club the following year and played his part in their charge to a Grand Final under Michael Maguire.
“I loved my time at Wigan. I think 2009 was one of the best seasons of my career,” said the former Canterbury Bulldogs utility back.
“Then Madge came in and, even though it was the same squad, he turned it around and we won the Premiership – and it’s been great to see Wigan kick on from there.
“Madge is easily the best coach I’ve played under.
“His fine detail, he went over everything perfectly, it was a step up in intensity – he got the best out of everyone.
“It was hard work!
“I started the year well, but unfortunately I injured my ankle, then Amos (Roberts) came on and – when he got injured – Sam came on from there.”
Was he aware of Tomkins’ promise back then?
“Definitely,” said Phelps. “When he was stand-off and I was full-back, I thought, ‘I hope they don’t shift him’, because he could do something special.
“Unfortunately for me they did!
“But it was a great team. Sean O’Loughlin was probably the best player I played alongside in my time in England. He made a massive difference.
“He’s the guy you want to play alongside, Mr.Consistency – he’s the ultimate professional.”
After leaving Wigan at the end of 2010 with 15 tries from 48 games, Phelps spent a season at Hull FC and then four years at Widnes.
But he has lived in Standish for the last few years, and admits the town holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s definitely a place I hold close – two of my children were born in Wigan hospital,” he said.
Since injuring his chest in mid-season he has completed a personal training course and gained work experience at RM Fitness, in Wigan.
But he hopes to continue playing in Australia, possibly for an NRL-feeder team, and believes he has another “two or three years left”.
Phelps jetted out with wife Hannah and their two sons, Dexter and Carter, but they plan to make trips back to England to see family – including Phelps’ eldest child, Ava.
“I have a daughter from a previous relationship, and I would have liked to have spent a couple more years here at least,” he said.
“I’m going to miss her a lot, but hopefully she’ll get good holidays over to Australia and we’ll be back over to see her and Hannah’s family.
“It’s strange to be leaving.
“I came over as a single man in my early ‘20s, I’m leaving as a married man and a dad-of-three.
“I’ve spent a quarter of my life in England... it’s definitely meant a lot to me.”