FROM digging holes to mining for silverware, Dom Manfredi has come a long way in the last few years.
The winger will crown a remarkable rise when he runs out for Wigan in Saturday’s Grand Final.
He laboured for two years after leaving school before earning a shot at Wigan and then, after suffering a serious knee injury as a teenager, he feared his chances were over. But his dedication in training impressed Shaun Wane, and the winger has not let him down since.
His try against Huddersfield in Thursday’s play-offs semi-final was his 32nd in just 31 first-team appearances.
“Two years ago I was on £20 a week, catching two buses to training, two buses home,” he said.
“Before that I worked for two years after I left school, digging holes.
“I’ve come a long way since then, but it does make you more grateful for opportunities like this.
“No way I’ll take this for granted.”
When Wigan handed the Leigh-born flyer a new four-year deal earlier this season, it was taken as a clear sign they see him as a long-term successor to Joe Burgess for next season.
But Manfredi has not had to wait for his chance, duelling with Josh Charnley for the right-wing role for most of the season.
After scoring five tries in his last two matches, he is likely to keep England winger Charnley out of the Grand Final starting XIII.
“I wasn’t expecting to be near the side, but I kept myself fit and waited for my chance,” said Manfredi, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday.
“I’ve not played in a Grand Final before.
“I was there last year in the stands, it was good to be there but to see them lose was hard. We don’t want that this year.
“You can tell how much it hurt the boys – they’ve all got a few wrongs to make right.”
Manfredi’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by his team-mates.
Tony Clubb said: “The kid is a freak.
“He’s really strong – anywhere near the opponents’ line and he causes them problems. It’s a credit to him.”
A pleasant but shy interviewee, Manfredi will be able to call on a small pocket of strong support from his family and friends on Saturday.
“My family will be there,” he said. “It’s rare to get someone from Leigh to support Wigan, but they are all die-hard fans now.”
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