Remember, remember, Junior Nsemba: Inside the rise of Wigan Warriors’ towering prospect

Drew Darbyshire
Junior Nsemba Wigan Warriors Alamy

Junior Nsemba (left) in action for Wigan Warriors in 2024

‘Remember, remember, Junior Nsemba’.

The iconic line told by commentator Dave Woods when Nsemba crashed over for his first Wigan Warriors try in their win over Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup sixth round last year.

It has been a stunning rise to the first team for Nsemba, who is living out his dream of playing for his hometown club in Super League.

Nsemba has made 19 appearances for the Warriors since making his first team debut in 2022, including a man of the match performance in their win over Leigh Leopards last week.

The 19-year-old back-rower rose through the academy ranks at Wigan after playing his junior rugby for community club Wigan St Judes.

“Junior has always been a powerful athlete and he’s a really outstanding young man, very respectful, very keen to learn,” Wigan coach Matt Peet told Love Rugby League.

“When you get a combination of the two – an outstanding physical specimen who is determined and keen to learn and a good lad – then you know you’ve got a player who you want to keep hold of and who you want to work with. I think everyone at the club – his team-mates and the other coaches – love working with Junior.

“He’s doing that thing what a young player has to do in making the coaches want to pick him, team-mates want to play with him and fans want to see him so he’s doing everything right at the moment, that doesn’t mean he is perfect but his attitude is first class.

“When he was injured he was outstanding with how he built himself up physically and now he is back in the mix, he is a great addition.”

Nsemba is one of the Super League‘s most promising prospects, but his attitude and humble nature off the field is something that has really impressed Peet and the rest of his team-mates.

“I think it helps at any club or in any walk of life to stay humble and keep trying to improve but also being confident, I think that balance is an important one and one that he strikes really well,” Peet added. “He’s certainly respectful but he isn’t intimidated, he is confident in his own ability and rightly so.”

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Junior Nsemba
Junior Nsemba scoring a try for Wigan Warriors

Towering forward Nsemba, who stands at 6ft 4in and weighs 105kg, has played three games for Peet’s side in 2024 so far after making a successful recovery from a long-term knee injury.

Nsemba says he is loving every minute of his time in the first team at his boyhood club, dedicating all his achievements thus far to his family.

“It’s a blessing,” Nsemba told Love Rugby League. “Everything I’m doing right now is for my family, mainly for my mum and dad so I am just trying to continue that and give everything back to them really.

“It means a lot (to play for Wigan) because I used to live around the corner from Wigan Warriors so it’s a blessing to play for my hometown club. The celebration (last week) was a bit mad, I was just tapping the badge and thanking God, letting the fans know that I’m here.

“I’ve obviously learnt a lot whilst being in the first team from leaders like Willie (Isa) and Faz (Liam Farrell). I’m still trying to improve my game and they are teaching me new things each day so being in the first team is a blessing really so I can learn from people like SOL (Sean O’Loughlin), Tommy (Leuluai) and Matty (Peet).”

Nsemba and Wigan are in Challenge Cup action this weekend, with the Warriors facing a trip to Castleford Tigers in the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon.

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