IAIN Thornley will return to his former home this Friday night – Headingley - but he isn’t expecting a warm reception!
The centre spent a season on loan at Leeds Carnegie rugby union club, who share Headingley with the Rhinos, before returning to home-town club Wigan last season.
Thornley said: “Headingley was my home ground for a season, so it’s going to be different being there in the opposition team and going into the away dressing room.
“I enjoyed playing there, although I expect the atmosphere to be different for this game – it should be a different challenge altogether.”
Thornley has settled into the left centre role and is hoping to sharpen-up his partnership with winger Pat Richards as the campaign unfolds.
And he has praised the player he succeeded, George Carmont, for helping him find his feet.
“I’ve been fairly happy with my performances so far,” said the academy-product, who returned to Wigan last season from a stint in union.
“The coaches have kept with me week in, week out, so it makes it easier that I’ve had that stability.
“I came back through half way through last season and was told George was potentially retiring, so I knew there was a spot up for grabs, but I didn’t expect to be starting every game.
“While George was here I was picking up as much as I could from him, trying to copy what he did and bring that into my own game.
“He was really good. You only needed to ask, or if he thought you could improve on something, he would tell you. He was a big help.
“It obviously helps having experienced players around you, and Pat has been great too.
“As you get more games together you get a sense how you’re going to react.”
All five of Thornley’s appearances last season came on the wing, but he is hoping to cling on to the centre role.
Shaun Wane must make a decision whether to instate Jack Hughes, handed the No.4 shirt pre-season, to the position or play the flame-haired academy graduate in the forwards. Incumbent right centre Darrell Goulding returns from illness this week.
“Ideally I’d like to play at centre, because I’ve been there all my career,” said Thornley.
“But I can cover other spots and if it helps the team, I’ll be happy anywhere.
“As people get fit it creates competition for places and that produces better performances and results, it keeps you on your toes.
“If you don’t have competition, you might make a mistake and not worry about losing your spot, so you need it to keep you on your toes, keep you training hard and keep you doing the extras.”