Off-contract Wigan Warriors veteran joins Wakefield Trinity for 2024 as Daryl Powell’s first signing

Ben Olawumi
Iain Thornley

Iain Thornley hugs Patrick Mago following Wigan Warriors' 2022 Challenge Cup triumph - Alamy

Wakefield Trinity have confirmed the signing of off-contract veteran Iain Thornley, who makes the move to Belle Vue on a one-year deal from Super League champions Wigan Warriors.

The centre, who came through hometown club Wigan’s academy, re-joined the Cherry and Whites ahead of the 2022 season from neighbours Leigh Leopards.

Former England Academy ace Thornley has been a fringe player for Matt Peet’s side over the last two years, making just 13 appearances in all, and only four this year. He did though start last year’s Challenge Cup final triumph against Huddersfield Giants, which saw Peet clinch his first silverware as Warriors chief.

Thornley has appeared for both Barrow Raiders and Oldham as a loanee this term, and with a stint in rugby union at the start of his career and 198 appearances in rugby league to date, the 32-year-old will now get the opportunity to surpass the 200-mark with Trinity.

The West Yorkshire outfit become the fifth different club in league that he’s been a permanent fixture at over the course of his lengthy career following on from Wigan, Hull KR, Catalans Dragons & Leigh.

There have also been stints on either loan or dual registration at South Wales Scorpions, Leigh, Workington Town & Salford Red Devils as well as the pair he’s donned a shirt for in 2023.

Wakefield Trinity sign off-contract ace Iain Thornley from Wigan Warriors

The towering back, who has regularly operated on the wing, has 86 career tries to his name and will no doubt be targeting a century on that front as well as the 200 where appearances are concerned.

Trinity boss Daryl Powell, who was only appointed as the club’s new head coach himself earlier this week following the completion of a takeover, is looking forward to what Thornley is going to bring both on and off the pitch.

The 58-year-old coach said: “I am delighted that Iain Thornley has agreed to join us next season. He is a big powerful centre who has been outstanding for Wigan whenever he has played over the last few seasons.

“He will add leadership and experience to what is be going to be an exciting backline.”

Veteran joins one of IMG’s favourites

In Wakefield, Thornley joins a club who despite relegation are Super League candidates for 2025 in the eyes of IMG. The strategic partner released their first grades this morning, and Trinity were ranked 10th of 35 clubs.

Fellow Championship outfit Toulouse Oympique weren’t too far behind in 11th, and if things remained the same come the end of the 2024 season, regardless of what happens on the field, that pair would replace Castleford Tigers (13th) and London Broncos (24th) in the top flight for 2025.

This year’s Challenge Cup winners Leigh Leopards are also at risk, clinging onto 12th spot in IMG’s eyes on the back of a year which saw them finish in the Super League play-offs for the first time ever.

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