Zach Eckersley: Wigan Warriors youngster who comes from the same amateur club as Kevin Sinfield sets out his targets for 2023
Wigan Warriors youngster Zach Eckersley hopes he can make an impact with the first team during 2023.
The 19-year-old was handed his Super League debut back in August, in the game against Hull KR at Craven Park.
Eckersley states he’s trying to learn as much as possible from those around him ahead of the next campaign.
He said: “This is the first pre-season where I’ve stepped up so it’s definitely been hard. This is my fourth week now, but I’ve enjoyed it.
“We’ve pushed ourselves, and we have tried to push the older lads as well when they’ve come in. It’s tough but we all know what we want to achieve as a group.
“There’s a big focus on culture, which Matty (Peet) drives, and just competing in every session.
“It can be mentally tough because there can be long days. I travel in as well so I’m getting up earlier than some of the other lads.
“I’m trying to learn as much as possible from Tommy (Leuluai), Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) and Matty.
“They’ve all been where I am now, so hopefully they can give me some good advice.
“I made my debut last year, which was a bit of a shock because I was injured for most of the campaign.
“I suppose it’s just about trying to prove myself to the coaches and working hard every day because they know I want a shot.
“I know Matty can see what myself and others can do but we’ve still got to prove that to him in training.
“I’ve played with a few of these lads for four years and know them quite well, but then there’s the likes of Morgan (Smithies) and Ethan (Havard) who have obviously been through what we have, so it’s good to ask them questions.
“I want to play at least 10 games this season, which will be a challenge, but it’s something I’m capable of and want to achieve.
“Having competition is good to help me get better, and just being able to see what the other players do in different situations.”
Eckersley played his amateur rugby with Waterhead ARLFC in Oldham, which has helped to produce a number of big names throughout the years.
“Players like Kevin Sinfield, Paul Sculthorpe and Barrie McDermott are all from there, so it’s got a good heritage,” he added.
“It’s a big thing. They go down to training sometimes and have a chat with the players.
“Around where I live in Saddleworth, everyone knows each other.
“My dad and both my grandads played rugby so it’s been in my family for years.
“My dad first took me down when I was five, and I just enjoyed it, but I wasn’t really that good.
“At around 10 or 11, I fell out of it for a little bit.
“Well, I say ‘a little bit,’ it was about two weeks, and then I phoned my dad and decided it was something I wanted to do.
“That’s when it started getting a bit more serious and I now can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
“It gives you that routine, and I like that.
“He hid it from me at the time, but my dad says it would’ve been a big mistake if I didn’t carry on playing.”