Wigan's backline looks really slick, says Sarginson

For a player who spent three years living hours away from home, Dan Sarginson thought homesickness was the least of his worries when he moved to Australia.
Dan Sarginson in friendly action for LeighDan Sarginson in friendly action for Leigh
Dan Sarginson in friendly action for Leigh

But the centre admits being so far from his family was a swaying factor which lured him back to Wigan after just one season with the Gold Coast.

“It was a tough decision, but an easy decision at the same time,” he said.

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“When I was injured over there I probably didn’t have many people around me that could help, and that swayed towards me decision of coming home.

“My mum’s barely missed a game in my whole career. At London it was a lot easier for her, but she comes up every week for the Wigan games and my family and even some of my friends get to come up.

“You take it for granted a bit, but it’s massive and you need that support.”

Sarginson was under contract with the Titans for 2018 and initially wanted to stay and prove a point after his debut NRL season was limited to just six games due to injury.

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But after meeting with Wigan owner Ian Lenagan in Brisbane in early December, he made a “gut decision” to return.

“The timing of Wigan needing a centre and me not hitting any form in Australia with my injuries, and struggling being away from home really... it was meant to be and I’m really happy to be back,” he said.

Warriors were forced into a late hunt for a centre when Kiwi Anthony Gelling asked for a release to return home to New Zealand.

“I was gutted he was going, because I was so close with Gells,” said Sarginson.

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“It was explained to me they were short on centres - I didn’t know he’d left at the time (I rejoined). I’m pretty gutted he left because he’s a real close mate of mine, but I’ve seen he’s signed for New Zealand Warriors and I wish him all the best. I know he’ll kill it out there.”

There’s something of an enigma about Sarginson, who was born in Australia but has a New Zealand passport (from his dad).

He moved to the UK with his English mum as a three-year old, grew up in Hemel, and had never heard of rugby league when a coach introduced him to the sport at school when he was 13.

Four years later, he made his Super League debut.

Four years after that, he was playing for Wigan and, months later, England.

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“When I came here from London Broncos as a 21-year-old, it brought me all the successes I’ve ever had in my career,” said Sarginson.

“I know this is the club that everyone signs for to get better as a player.”

He cemented the left centre spot in his first stint at Wigan, but is likely to take the right-berth, forming a productive, metre-eating partnership with hard-running winger Tom Davies.

Sarginson’s return wasn’t universally welcomed by fans, with many frustrated at the lack of new-blood after a disappointing end to the season.

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But executive director Kris Radlinski said he was convinced within an hour of his first training session they had made the right call.

And the player?

“It’s been the right decision. I’ve been back a month and I’m back to how I was before I left,” said the 24-year-old.

“I’m really enjoying being back around the boys and hopefully we’ll have a good season.

“I’m forever grateful to this club and hopefully I can be a better player and push and try and get back in the England squad.

“I will give everything and I think they know that.”

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After little more than a year away, Sarginson says he has noticed a difference at Wigan.

There is a “frustration” among his peers, he says, as well as a clearer way of holding players to account.

“We’ve put certain trademarks into black and white now so if someone’s not reaching a certain statistic or playing a certain way, then we hold them accountable,” added Sarginson.

“And if there are younger lads that are doing it in training then they’ll be playing.

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“The boys know what they have to do in every game and there are no real grey areas where people can put blame on each other.

“Everyone’s accountable and I think the boys are ripping in.

“They’re not sat there sulking – it’s the best response I’ve seen from a team. Our backline look really slick... I think it will be a good year.”