George Williams says “Wigan is in my heart” after signing a new contract which runs until the end of 2021.
In a huge coup for the Warriors and the Super League, the England halfback has ended speculation over his future by pledging his future to his hometown club.
Wigan revealed they turned down several big-money transfer fee offers for Williams.
His new deal will run until 2021, though - like John Bateman’s arrangement - he will be able to leave at the end of 2020 if “a pre-defined substantial transfer fee” is met.
Williams, who was attracting the attention of cashed-up NRL clubs, said: “It’s been a tough decision. The last two or three weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in my career, and Wigan is in my heart and where I want to be.
“I was close (to leaving), I’m not going to lie, but I kept coming back to this is where I want to be, this is where I want to win trophies.”
Wigan used their Facebook page to make the announcement, with Williams signing the extension on a live video in front of rugby director Kris Radlinski.
“George is a superstar,” said Radlinski. “Some great players have worn the No.6 here - Trent Barrett, Shaun Edwards, Brett Kenny - and I’m confident he’ll be talked about in the same breathe.”
His decision was warmly welcomed by fans, less than 48 hours before Wigan host St Helens in the Good Friday derby.
Wigan confirmed they have taken advantage of the second marquee player allowance to secure Williams’ signature. Sam Tomkins is their other marquee player, which means only £75,000 of their big contracts count on the salary cap.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: “The recently agreed additional changes to the current salary cap rules were designed specifically to help keep elite talent in Super League, and the Wigan vlub will use the option of a second-marquee player with this new contract.
“There has been very strong interest both from within Super League and the NRL and the Wigan club has turned down a number of sizeable transfer fees in order to keep George here.
“We realise that George is a big part of our future moving further and look forward to seeing him in a Wigan shirt for many years to come.”
Williams debuted for Wigan in 2013 and was handed the No.6 shirt two years later. He went on to win the Super League Young Player of the Year and break into the England side.