David Furner’s reunion with his old club this week has evoked wonderful memories of his two years in the Cherry and White.
The former Canberra forward met up with many of his old Wigan friends at a Legends Night in Sydney yesterday.
Brett Finch, Bryan Fletcher, Pat Richards, Les Davidson, Amos Roberts and Trent Barrett were among the other guests at the event.
And Furner’s involvement in Wigan’s mini-tour goes beyond reminiscing about the ‘good ol’ days’.
He will be in the opposition ranks this Saturday at the ‘international doubleheader’ at the ANZ Stadium – Furner is the assistant coach at South Sydney.
“It’s great having them over because I’ve got terrific memories of the opportunity I got to play for Wigan,” said Furner, who made 58 appearances in 2001-02.
“Funny enough, my dad coached the Kangaroos when they toured England in 1986, when I was still at school, and when he came back he’d got me a Wigan jersey.
“I don’t know if that was an omen or not, but having toured with Australia in ‘94 myself, I always wanted to play over there.
“I loved the atmosphere, and I knew from my first trial game at the JJB, as it was when, I had made the right decision.
“We had a wonderful team, and I was lucky enough to play in a Grand Final and win the Challenge Cup (at Murrayfield).
“I made some great friends... and Tez O’Connor!”
“Terry just tells people he knows me!” he jokes. “With social media, it’s easier to keep in touch with them, but obviously it’s nice to meet up.”
Furner has already met with Kris Radlinski while the Warriors director was Down Under planning their mini-tour, and caught up with his old mate Gary Connolly, who is an ambassador on the tour.
As well as the two years playing alongside each other at Wigan, they used to drive over the M62 together when they played at Leeds, where Furner won the Super League Grand Final in 2004.
He has previously returned to England as assistant coach with Australia, and is now helping prepare Souths for their NRL campaign as assistant coach, having previously coached at Canberra and North Queensland.
“I know Wigan have already played a couple of Super League games, but I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us,” said Furner.
“It’s exciting for both clubs. I think for the players from Wigan, especially those who haven’t been to either Australia or played in the representative teams, it’s exciting.
“Physically we’re ready, but it’s about working on some combinations before the start of our season.
“I think the relationship between Super League and NRL needs to have these types of games, and it’s great we’ve got Leeds over, too, for the World Club Challenge (at Melbourne).”