Legend Brett Kenny admits he was “speechless” when Wigan revealed plans to honour him during their trip to Australia next month.
The Warriors’ Super League clash with Hull FC in Wollongong on February 10 will be for the Kenny-Sterling Shield.
And they are also staging a fundraising event for Kenny and his family – the former Australia international has been battling lymphoma cancer for several months.
“It’s amazing – I was genuinely speechless when they got in touch and said they wanted to do that for me,” Kenny said.
“To think a club I played for 30-odd years ago on the other side on the world would name a shield after me and organise a fundraiser, it’s overwhelming.”
Kenny only spent one season with Wigan, but left a huge impression.
He scored 19 tries in 25 appearances, and was named the man of the match in the epic 1985 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley – a game in which his former Parramatta halfback partner Peter Sterling played for the Black and Whites.
Kenny said: “I had a great time at Wigan, I’ve nothing but fond memories.
“I went to the World Cup game at Melbourne with a touring England party and there were Wigan fans on that trip who spoke fondly about the year I was there, and even fans from other clubs still talk about that Challenge Cup final as one of the best, which is nice.
“It was a very special time for me. I’d been to England in ‘82 on a Kangaroos tour but to live there, be with a club, spend Christmas there – I remember us building snowmen in the garden – and make a lot of friends was great.
“The good thing was there were a lot of young players coming through and then when I toured with the Kangaroos in ‘86, they were in the Great Britain squad, which was great to see them develop and know them before they had become international players.”
Two of those ‘young team-mates’ will be with Wigan’s touring party – coach Shaun Wane and ambassador Steve Hampson.
“It’ll be great to catch up,” said Kenny. “That’s the beauty of this game. You can go years between seeing these guys but when you do, it’s like you were together last week.
“I get on really well with Hampo, and Shaun – I met up with him at the Man of Steel dinner a couple years ago –it’s great to see him doing so well.
“I keep an eye out for their results and every time they get to a final or win a trophy, I’m particularly pleased for him.”
Kenny was sad to learn of the recent passing of his former joint-head coach Alan McInnes.
“Alan was a great bloke and I enjoyed my time working with him,” he said. “I’d never been coached by two (joint-head) coaches before, but it worked well. Colin (Clarke) took the forwards and Alan looked after the backs and he was good for me, we worked well together.”
Wigan and Hull FC will make history when they go to battle in Wollongong, the first-ever Super League fixture to be played outside of Europe.
The fundraising lunch on February 9 will be at the City Beach Function Centre in Wollongong. Kenny and Sterling will both be in attendance as guest speakers.
Kenny says he is “going okay” as he continues his own personal health battle.
“I finished my chemo in November, now I’m at the stage where I have to have these injections every three months, and that will go on for the next two years,” he said. “I’ve got a scan later this month to see if the tumour has shrunk. Last time, it had gone down quite a bit.
“Things are going okay. I feel alright. Every so often, I’ll get a pain – maybe an old football injury – and think, ‘What is that?’ and it worries me. But otherwise I’m doing okay.”