NextGen: Meet the ‘born finisher’ at Wigan Warriors tipped for bright future

Ross Heppenstall
Jacob Douglas Wigan Warriors Alamy

Jacob Douglas in action for Wigan Warriors during a 2024 pre-season friendly

Jacob Douglas is among a crop of highly-rated academy graduates pushing through Wigan Warriors’ youth ranks into the first team.

The homegrown winger made his Super League debut in the victory at Warrington Wolves on June 1 and was 18th man in their home win over London Broncos on June 21.

While Liam Marshall and Abbas Miski are firmly established as Matt Peet’s first-choice widemen, Douglas is being tipped for a bright future.

Here, Love Rugby League charts the development of the talented 20-year-old and assesses his potential..


Douglas is an Oldham lad and came to prominence at the Waterhead Warriors community club with Wigan teammate Zach Eckersley.

The Peach Road outfit, who have produced so many top-class rugby league players down the years, carefully nurtured Douglas and Eckersley as youngsters.

Peet sent a letter to Waterhead last year to thank them for their outstanding work in developing the rising stars.

The Wigan head coach wrote: “Zach and Jacob have now progressed at the club to join the first team squad for 2023 and hopefully long beyond.

“As I’m sure you will know, Zach and Jacob have all the characteristics that we look for – hardworking, dedicated and humble to name a few.

“These have helped them to gain their place within the squad.

“It is not lost on us the development that took place for Zach and Jacob in their amateur careers with yourselves.

“The work you and all amateur clubs do is invaluable.”

Douglas has progressed through the Warriors scholarship and academy system since 2019.

In his first season, he suffered a broken collarbone and his second season in 2020 was out of action due to the pandemic.

The winger was a consistent starter for the Wigan academy side in 2021, as well as the reserves and academy teams in 2022.

He also featured in Wigan’s 42-12 pre-season win over Newcastle Thunder in 2022.

Douglas was promoted to Peet’s first team squad in January 2023 and signed a two-year deal, with the option of a third year.

He suffered an injury early in that season, but returned to reserves action against London Broncos, scoring four tries and featured to help Wigan to another Reserves Grand Final victory in 2023.

Wigan’s academy head coach John Duffy told Love Rugby League: “Dougie was a bit later going full-time than Zach but he impressed in the 2023 pre-season with the reserves and the academy.

“Matt was really happy with him and made him full-time as we were going into last season.”

LRL RECOMMENDS: Ranking every Super League club by number of academy products fielded in 2024, with Wigan Warriors 4th

Style of play – ‘a natural finisher’

While Douglas has yet to score at senior level, he has already carved out a reputation as a winger who can cross the line.

He is also a natural athlete, Douglas is noted for his speed, power and aerobic endurance.

“Dougie’s a born finisher, a speedster, and electric when he’s in open space,” adds Duffy.

“He’s got a big future as well. He’s obviously still learning his trade but he has massive potential.

“As you saw on his debut against Warrington earlier this month, he’s pretty safe and carried the ball well out of our own half in yardage.”

DON’T MISS: An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Oldham, including Wigan Warriors duo

Experience in the Championship and League 1

Douglas has previously spent time on loan with Whitehaven and Oldham.

More recently he enjoyed a two-week loan at Bradford Bulls and played on dual-reg at Barrow Raiders with fellow Wigan youngsters Tom Forber and Ryan Brown.

Duffy said: “Jacob recently played a couple of games over at Bradford and Eamon O’Carroll was impressed with him.

“It always stands you in good stead as a young player when you’re playing in the Championship against older players.

“It’s really good for confidence as well. Super League is faster but not as physical, so the Championship holds them in good stead when they get called upon.

“Dougie played a couple of games for Eamon at Bradford and then for Barrow in Toulouse more recently with Ryan Brown and Tom Forber.

“He played really well over there, so he’s doing very well at the minute and really impressing people.

“You’re always playing against lads who are approaching semi-retirement and have played a few hundred games in Super League.

“They still have the standards about them, so you’re coming up against some very good players.”

RELATED: Access all areas inside the world-famous Wigan Warriors academy shaping stars of the future

First team debut

A week before the Challenge Cup final, Wigan won at Warrington in a Super League game and Douglas made his first senior appearance on the right flank.

It was a special moment for the Oldhamer and Duffy revealed: “Dougie’s family were in the changing room at Warrington when he made his debut.

“He’s had a good grounding due to his background and we have high hopes for him.”

Former Leigh Leopards boss Duffy is enjoying nurturing Wigan’s best young players, adding: “I took up my role in pre-season in 2023.

“I’m really enjoying it and helping the lads come through and deal with the stresses of Super League.

“It’s about making sure they enjoy it because it’s scrutinised a lot at the top level, so it’s about trying to make sure they get enjoyment out of developing as a player and person as well.

“The academy and the reserves train together, so we get to see all the young playing group who are looking to come through into the first team.”

Player profile

Name: Jacob Douglas

Date of birth: 03/03/2004

Position: Winger

Senior debut: Warrington Wolves (A), 01/06/2024

Honours: Lancashire Academy (Origin)

READ NEXT: Grading every Super League club’s 2024 from worst to best at halfway point