Rugby League: Catalans Dragons' Michael McIlorum faces old friends Wigan

Catalan Dragons
Catalan Dragons

Catalans Dragons forward Michael McIlorum admits it will be "weird" facing his old team-mates when Wigan visit Perpignan on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Leeds-born hooker spent over a decade with the Warriors and boasted Super League and Challenge Cup honours among his 244 appearances before shocking the rugby league world with a snap move to the Dragons.

"It's going to be a bit of a weird one but I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces," said McIlorum, who signed a two-year contract with the French club in January.

"It will be more strange going back to Wigan, to the DW Stadium, and sitting in the away changing rooms.

"I moved over straight from school when I was 16 so I've been in Wigan pretty much all my adult life. It's a place that I call home and my girlfriend is from there and a lot of very close friends are there.

"But it's a professional sport and these things happen."

McIlorum, who was still under contract with the Warriors, caught the eye of Canberra during an impressive 2017 World Cup campaign in Australia with Ireland but the Catalans came up with a more suitable offer and, after mutually agreeing the move with Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, he says he is happy with the outcome.

"I'm absolutely loving the lifestyle and obviously the weather is a lot nicer so I'm enjoying that," he said.

The Catalans, who survived in Super League in 2017 only by winning the Million Pound Game, are once more doing it tough and are bottom of the table after just two wins from their opening nine fixtures.

McIlorum is hoping their 27-6 win over Huddersfield on Monday will kick-start their campaign but acknowledges they face a difficult task against Shaun Wane's Wigan, who have lost just twice so far.

"I'd say the word is frustrating, coming from Wigan and being quite successful," he said.

"We got off to a bad start and had injuries to both our half-backs but hopefully that win on Monday will stand us in good stead and get a bit of confidence into the team because the squad is really good.

"We've got some good players, we just need to start playing as a team.

"I haven't seen any of Wigan's games but I expected them to have a good season this year.

"With the disappointing season last year I knew how hard Waney would have been training them and I knew how hungry the players will have been to make amends.

"I'm expecting a really tough game on Saturday."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Warrington will seek a fifth straight win when they go to Salford and Widnes are looking for a first away victory of the season when they visit Hull KR.

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