Exclusive: Wigan Warriors new boy Tiaki Chan explains move, reveals best position and talks World Club Challenge ‘pinnacle’

Ross Heppenstall
Tiaki Chan Wigan Warriors Alamy

Tiaki Chan in action for France in 2023 - Alamy

New Wigan Warriors signing Tiaki Chan does not need any extra motivation to feature in the forthcoming World Club Challenge – where he could face cousin Jesse McLean.

Australia-born Chan, 23, is one of six new recruits as Matt Peet’s men bid to defend their Super League title and become the best club side on the planet.

Wigan host NRL kings Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge on February 24 and Chan admits he would love to be involved.

The rugged forward’s father – Alex – played in the NRL, while younger brother Joe, 21, plays for Melbourne Storm.

The new Warriors recruit told Love Rugby League: “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself right now, and I don’t think anyone is.

“We’re just taking steps towards our goal, which is the World Club Challenge, and I want to be playing in that game. It’s the best of the best and that fixture is one of the pinnacles of rugby league.

“It would mean the world to be involved, especially as that’s where I’m from in Australia. My little cousin plays there, Jesse McLean, and he will be coming over, so the rivalry has already started in the family!”

The France international, who debuted on the senior international scene against England back in April, has quickly settled into life at Wigan, helped by a few familiar faces from back home.

He explained: “I knew a few of the boys that were here already like Paddy Mago, Cade Cust, Bevan French and Willie Isa.

“I obviously know Adam Keighran from playing with him at Catalans and being here right at the start of pre-season, meeting other new faces such as Sam Eseh and Sam Walters, has been great.

“I’m living with Tyler Dupree and we’re all around the same age as well, so they’ve been looking after me and vice-versa. We’re a very tight-knit group.”

Exclusive: Wigan Warriors new boy Tiaki reveals best position

Chan can play on the edges, but prefers it in the middle, and admits he prides himself on his physicality.

He explained: “I love playing anywhere in the middle, I’ve been training a bit in the second-row as well, but I prefer it in the middle and having more physical contact.

“I feel that’s where you earn the respect of your team-mates – by doing the hard stuff that no-one else likes doing. Rugby league has always been a big part of my life with my dad playing in Australia.

“My dad has always taught me it’s not just what you do on the field, but off it too. That’s something big I’ve learned from him.”

The Chan brothers following in father Alex’s footsteps of becoming professional rugby league players

Alex Chan Catalans Dragons Alamy Catalans Dragons forward Alex Chan in final game of his playing career in 2008 – Alamy

23-year-old Chan is close to brother Joe and they speak constantly.

“As brothers we always had a goal to make it in professional rugby league,” he said.

“We wanted to make a name for ourselves, not just off the back of our dad’s name. I talk to Joe every other day and get my pointers on my game from him.

“I’ll say, ‘this happened at training today’, and he’ll tell me what I can do to improve on a certain area of my game. And vice-versa, he’s always asking me about things as well since he started to move closer into the middle.

“It’s good that we can help each other, but we try not to talk too much about footie, because we get enough of it every day. I just always call him to make sure his head is in the right space.”

Chan has immersed himself in the local community in Wigan, often speaking to fans in the town centre, and has also been to his first-ever football match.

He added: “I’d never seen a game of football before, but I went to watch Wigan Athletic play Fleetwood Town. It was a great experience and I’m loving my time here. Everyone’s working towards the same goal.”

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