Wigan Warriors chief delivers glowing reference on try-scoring starlet following Wembley success

Ben Olawumi
Zach Eckersley, Kris Radlinski

Wigan CEO Kris Radlinski sang the praises of Warriors starlet Zach Eckersley following the youngster's try-scoring appearance at Wembley in the 2024 Challenge Cup final against Warrington Wolves

Wigan CEO Kris Radlinski had made over 200 senior appearances before he appeared in the 2002 Challenge Cup final. Zach Eckersley had made just four prior to his try-scoring starring role in the Warriors’ 2024 final triumph in the same competition.

Radlinski debuted for hometown club Wigan late on in 1993. Earlier that year, the Cherry & Whites had lifted the Challenge Cup with victory over Widnes Vikings at Wembley.

The Warriors then won the competition in ’94 and ’95, but a young Radlinski wasn’t selected in either of the two finals.

Accordingly, by the time their next final in the competition in 2002 came around, when the full-back put in a man of the match showing to earn the Lance Todd Trophy against bitter rivals St Helens in Edinburgh, he had just turned 26 and was already vastly experienced.

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Wigan Warriors chief delivers glowing reference on try-scoring starlet Zach Eckersley following Wembley success against Warrington Wolves

That couldn’t be further away from reality for 2024 star Eckersley, who didn’t win the Lance Todd Trophy, but did score Wigan’s first points of the afternoon in the capital against Warrington Wolves with his first-half try.

Having played just four games at first-team level before stepping out at the national stadium, the 20-year-old seamlessly stepped in to fill the shoes of suspended Australian Adam Keighran.

Centre Eckersley now has 20 senior appearances on his CV in total, when game time on loan or dual-registration with Widnes, London Broncos and Barrow Raiders is included.

The youngster’s try was the first of three scored by Matt Peet’s side in an 18-8 triumph on Saturday, and post-match, chief Radlinski had a beaming smile as he delivered a glowing review.

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Radlinski said: “Look, he’s a talented kid, really talented.

“He’s a popular member of the squad, just because of the way he applies himself, and Adam Keighran has been superb with him this week… Adam has spent a lot of time with him.

“We’ve known for a while that he is going to be a good player, and he will be a good player.

“When Adam got banned, there was no danger that we were not going to play him (Eckersley), because we knew he was ready to step in, but it’s still Wembley.

“You’ve still got to go out and do it, and he did it superbly.”

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