Iain Thornley: Winning Challenge Cup would mean more than it did in 2013

Ben Olawumi
Iain Thornley Wigan Warriors 2013 PA

Iain Thornley (right) celebrates his try with Pat Richards (left) in the 2013 Challenge Cup final

Wigan centre Iain Thornley says that a Challenge Cup win this year with the Warriors would mean more to him than it did nine years ago.

Born and bred in the town, Thornley scored a try as the Cherry and Whites beat Hull FC at Wembley in 2013. That same year, he went onto win the Grand Final with Wigan.

But ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Huddersfield Giants, Thornley says that this one will have added meaning.

Iain Thornley making new memories

“I’m more excited this time around for my kids,” said Thornley.

“My lad (James) has started playing rugby recently so for him to see it and experience it, I want to win it in front of him.

“I got some special pictures with him after the semi-final (win against St Helens), but I want to go one step further and get some with him holding the Challenge Cup.

“I’ve got a lot more family coming this time. My nieces and nephews will be there as well as my kids, so it’s going to be something really special for me. Some players go all of their careers never getting to win it, so to do it twice would be massive for me.

“I signed here when I was 11. I came through the scholarship and then into the academy, had four years here last time. I’ve got some really good memories. All my friends and family are fans, I love it here.”

Versatile back Thornley notably signed back at Wigan from neighbours Leigh. He had been planning for life after rugby league following the Centurions’ relegation last season.

Reflecting on that successful spell with Wigan, the 30-year-old added, “We had a really good year (in 2013).

“We won the Challenge Cup, managed to get the job done there and then a few months later beat Warrington in the Grand Final. It was a very special year and one that I’ll always remember.

“That Challenge Cup final is one that sticks with you forever in particular. I’ve still got the medal by the side of my bed along with my Grand Final ring and my grandad’s hat which he always used to wear.

“It’s a bit of a memorabilia thing and I’m hoping to add one or two more to the collection. They’re the type of memories in rugby that’ll stay with you forever, I still remember them clear as day.”

Righting the wrongs

Iain Thornley Wigan Warriors
Thornley in action for Wigan this season

Given his affiliation to Wigan, Thornley admitted there were some wrongs to put right when facing the Giants this weekend.

The Warriors haven’t won the competition since that 2013 success. Since then, he’s gone on to play for Hull KR and Catalans Dragons as well as Leigh.

He said: “It’s been a long stint for a club like Wigan not to win the Challenge Cup. It’s just weird how it happens to be the last time they won it, it was when I was here.

“We’re obviously all hoping and wanting to put that right, do it again and get some silverware as the reward.”

The Challenge Cup final kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, May 28. It is preceded by the 1895 Cup final between Championship promotion-chasers Leigh and Featherstone.

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