The utility forward put pen to paper in a two year deal beginning from 2014 with the further option of a third year. The 23-year-old has been a mainstay in Rowley’s squad since his move from local amateur club Leigh East in 2011.
The Great Britain Community Lions under-18 representative has the ability to play either at prop or in the second row.
“His contribution has been massive to be honest, he will be very difficult to replace”, said Rowley. “A lot of people talk about Chris Hill and how he has moved on and I think Sam is very similar in terms of ability to Chris. I think he can achieve as much as Chris without any problem, and that’s without as much development under his belt.
“Chris came through the system whereas Sam was plucked up pretty late and his rise has been pretty meteoric. I think we’ll see him feature, I don’t think he’ll go to Wigan and be a bit part player, I think he’ll feature heavily in their games next year.”
Hopkins had signed a one-year deal with Leigh at the start of the season but nine tries in 13 appearances attracted the interest of a number of Super League teams, including the current Super League leaders. Leigh’s head coach believes Wigan were the right choice.
He said: “There were not any bad choices for Sam, but I think Wigan is a good choice. The environment and resource they’ve got and the place they’re at this moment in time is good. They’re in a healthy place and they are doing well.
“It’s a tough time to be joining them but also a good one, I know Sam backs himself and I certainly back him to go over there and take his place amongst those that are assured of getting first team rugby. I’ve got no doubt that Sam is capable of going further and getting national representative honours.”
Hopkins will link up with Shaun Wane’s team for the start of pre-season in November.