JOSH Charnley will tonight toast an incredible year – as he vows for more of the same in 2012.
He started last season with one Warriors appearance to his name and with the squad no.25 on the back.
But within the past 12 months he has firmly established himself as a crowd-pleaser and one of Super League’s most exciting young stars.
Now – after 27 tries in 32 appearances – he goes into the new year as one of Wigan’s starting wingers, clutching the No.2 shirt... and with a steely determination to press on to bigger things in the New Year.
Charnley said: “I didn’t expect to play anywhere near as many games as I did last.
“I didn’t have a figure in my head but I didn’t think I’d play most of them, score 20-odd tries and play in a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
“It was mad, really.
“The big thing for me now is to impress and back it up.
“I’m not going to be thinking about what’s happened, I’ve got to train as hard as I can and start the new season well.”
Charnley made his Super League debut in 2010 while on loan at Hull KR and made one appearance for Wigan that year – ironically, against the Robins – before his big breakthrough last season.
He is no longer the new kid on the block, with Wigan’s senior ranks swelled by the addition of a clutch of younger players this year as well as the arrival of Epalahame Lauaki, Anthony Gelling and Welsh duo Gil Dudson and Ben Flower.
“They’ve settled in well and everyone’s picking up the Welsh accents – it took us a while though!” he smiled.
“When we went away to Florida it was like Gavin And Stacey, listening to the fellas doing their accents!”
During the Florida training camp before Christmas, the players were invited to watch US athletics superstar Tyson Gay train, and Charnley was even asked to race against the second fastest man on the planet.
He added: “Someone tried to get us to race but apparently Tyson’s not going to be racing until June, for the Olympics.
“I’m telling everyone he didn’t want to race me... that’s my story and I’ll stick to it!
“But seriously, he would have dusted everyone. Just seeing him train, and other world-class athletes as well, was phenomenal.”
The Wigan players report back for training next week and then have four pre-season friendlies – starting with the trip to Hull KR on January 15 – before the Super League season begins on February 5.
Charnley added: “It’s crazy to think the pre-season is nearly over.
“We’ve still got a week or two of training but then we’re straight into the friendly matches and then the season starts. It soon comes around.”