Chris Hankinson is eyeing up a Wigan starting spot – after recovering from an injury which derailed his Super League career.
The centre was a mid-season recruit from Championship club Swinton and was immediately thrust into the starting line-up for a July derby with St Helens.
After a solid outing in a 14-6 loss, he scored his first try the following week in a 25-20 win against Catalans.
But just when it appeared he was making a strong start to the professional ranks, he suffered a detached retina which sidelined him for the rest of the campaign.
He has now recovered and aiming to impress new coach Adrian Lam during their pre-season.
“It’s all well and healed up,” said Hankinson. “I’m back in contact, and full training.
“It was disappointing. I had a great opportunity, I knew I had game time in front of me which I knew I could have tried to cement a spot, especially coming up to the business end of the year.
“I just wanted to impress really, so it was a hit – but it happens and you get on with it.”
Hankinson and the bulk of the Wigan squad are in Milton Keynes on a training camp with the Red Bull team.
It is a far cry from his previous pre-seasons as a part-time player, which he combined with his apprenticeship.
“This time last year I was working as an electrician,” added Hankinson, who is completing his course at college.
“I’d only just started that so I was doing 7.30am until 4pm, and then training at 7.30pm.
“It was a big shift and I’d 100 per cent rather be doing this.
“I’m really grateful and I can’t wait to keep it going.
“In the Championship you only have a couple of hours in the night a few night a week.
“They are intense because you have to do a lot to get as fit as possible.
“Here, the intensity is higher, the speed’s higher, the fitness levels of the people around you is higher and that’s the massive difference.
“You’re in full-time for long days. It’s getting harder but I’m enjoying it with the lads and adapting to Lammy’s new systems.”
Hankinson will face competition for starting spots from England internationals Oliver Gildart and Dan Sarginson, as well as Liam Forsyth.