Michael McIlorum says facing Wigan Warriors will be strange

Michael McIlorum: Picture from Steve Brady of Catalanmedia.com
Michael McIlorum: Picture from Steve Brady of Catalanmedia.com

Former Wigan Warriors hooker Michael McIlorum admits it will be strange to line-up against his former colleagues for the first time tomorrow.

The fans’ favourite, known for his confrontational style of play, has seen an indifferent start to his career in France.

Injuries, suspensions and inconsistent performances from the squad have resulted in just two wins from nine games and the Dragons are rooted to the bottom of the table.

Coach Steve McNamara is under pressure to produce a winning team and a recent win against Huddersfield has given the Catalans some confidence as they face their biggest challenge of the season against Wigan.

But McIlorum is relishing the test, insisting any friendships will be put to one side for 80 minutes.

“Most of them are really good friends, and Waney is too, so it’s going to be really strange,” he said.

“But I can’t wait to see them all again. Obviously, as a professional rugby league player for Catalans I’ve got a job to do and I will be doing my best to try and take the two points. I hope we’ll all have a chat after the game but it’s different for those 80 minutes.

“It’s no secret, everyone’s aware of how Wigan play, and what Waney’s trying to achieve there so it’s going to be tough. They look good.”

When asked if there is a particular player he’d be looking forward to facing tomorrow, McIlorum said with a smile: “No, not really, but I hope John Bateman’s not playing in the centres because he’ll be able to run away from me!”

McIlorum joined the Dragons in a shock switch from Wigan in January following 10 years at the Warriors. A product of the Academy, he has won every domestic honour in the game but maybe his time in France will be his biggest challenge.

“It’s been a bad start to the season but we’re a lot happier now we’ve got the win,” he said.

“It’s a nice place to work and the sun’s out here now so I’m definitely warmed up for this one.

“We know the Wigan game is going to be a tough challenge but we’re ready to go.”