Wigan Warriors’ influence in Super League underlined by outrageous team of former players

Louis Chapman Coombe

Love Rugby League puts together a 13 of ex-Wiganers

Few, if any, clubs have contributed as much to rugby league’s player pool quite like Wigan Warriors.

One of the most high-profile academies in the world game has developed some of the sport’s greatest-ever players – and even across Super League to this day, there are dozens of former Wigan players still plying their trade.

That’s underlined by a star-studded 13 you could put together of former Warriors academy graduates that are now at other clubs..

1. Umyla Hanley (Leigh Leopards)

Umyla Hanley Alamy
Umyla Hanley in action for Wigan in 2022

We’re starting things off with a position change, as Leigh Leopards winger Umyla Hanley jumps in at fullback. Hanley made his debut for the Warriors in 2020, and made 11 appearances across his three seasons at the club.

He joined the Leopards in 2023, but has become a regular feature this year, scoring 12 tries in 15 appearances.

2. Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons)

Tom Davies in action for Wigan-Alamy

Catalans Dragons winger Tom Davies graduated the Warriors academy in 2017, and went onto make 63 appearances for the club between 2017 and 2019.

He joined Les Dracs in 2020, and has since made 98 appearances and helped them reach two Grand Finals. Davies will swap the South of France for East Hull this off-season as he is set to join Hull KR.

3. Oliver Gildart (Hull KR)

Oliver Gildart for Wigan Warriors-Alamy

From a new Hull KR man to a current one now, as Oliver Gildart slots into the centres. Gildart made his Wigan debut in 2015, and went onto make 143 appearances for the Cherry and Whites during his seven season spell.

He moved to the NRL to join West Tigers ahead of the 2022 campaign, and also spent time at the Sydney Roosters and the Dolphins before returning to the UK with Leigh Leopards.

Gildart then moved to the Robins ahead of this season, and has made seven appearances thus far.

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4. Joe Burgess (Hull KR)

Joe Burgess
Joe Burgess in action for Wigan Warriors in 2019

Gildart’s Hull KR teammate Joe Burgess moves across from the wing to the centres in our team. Burgess made his Warriors debut in 2013, and went onto make 58 appearances in his first three seasons. He was quickly snapped up by the Sydney Roosters ahead of the 2016 season, and also spent time with South Sydney Rabbitohs before returning to Wigan.

After three more seasons in Cherry and White, Burgess made the move to Salford Red Devils, but left this off-season to join Hull KR.

5. Josh Charnley (Leigh Leopards)

Josh Charnley Wigan Warriors Alamy
Josh Charnley playing for Wigan-Alamy

The second current Leopard in this team is Josh Charnley. Charnley rose through the academy ranks at Wigan to make his first team debut in 2010, and made 173 appearances across his six year stint.

He left the club to pursue an opportunity in rugby union, but returned to league in 2018 to join Warrington Wolves. After five seasons on the Wire, Charnley joined Leigh’s promotion charge, and became a key member of Adrian Lam’s team.

6. George Williams (Warrington Wolves)

George Williams Wigan Warriors Alamy
George Williams for Wigan-Alamy

Arguably the most famous ex-Warrior on this list is current England skipper George Williams. The current Warrington Wolves man made his Cherry and Whites debut in 2013, and registered 179 appearances in seven seasons.

He made the move down under in 2020 to join Canberra Raiders, but after just two years returned to the UK with Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2022 season. He was named England captain in 2023 ahead of their mid-season test against France, and has a 100% win record as captain.

7. Joe Mellor (Salford Red Devils)

Joe Mellor Salford Red Devils Alamy
Joe Mellor running out for Salford Red Devils-Alamy

The first of three Salford Red Devils players to make our team is Joe Mellor. Mellor made his senior debut for Wigan in 2012, but between loans at Harlequins and Widnes only registered four appearances for the club. He joined Widnes permanently in 2013, and went onto make 152 appearances for them until his exit in 2018.

Mellor also spent time at both Toronto Wolfpack and Leigh before signing for Salford this off-season.

8. Oliver Partington (Salford Red Devils)

Oliver Partington for Wigan in 2022-Alamy

Fellow Red Devil Oliver Partington kicks things off in the front-row. After making his maiden appearance for the Warriors in 2018, Partington went onto play 90 more times for his hometown club, before joining Salford in 2023.

He quickly became a key part of Paul Rowley’s side, however he is on his way to the South of France next season to join Catalans Dragons.

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9. Amir Bourouh (Salford Red Devils)

Amir Bourouh Salford Red Devils Alamy
Salford hooker Amir Bourouh

23-year-old hooker Amir Bourouh made his competitive debut for Wigan against his current side Salford in 2019, but only made nine appearances for the club.

He was snapped up by Salford ahead of the 2022 season, but has also spent some time on loan at London Broncos, Swinton Lions and Barrow Raiders since.

Bourouh has made 29 appearances to date for the Red Devils, but is leaving at the end of the season to join Hull FC.

10. Joe Bullock (Warrington Wolves)

Joe Bullock
Joe Bullock in action for Wigan Warriors in 2019

Joining clubmate George Williams in this team is prop Joe Bullock. The former Barrow Raiders man joined Wigan ahead of the 2019 season, and made 59 appearances for the club across his three year stint.

He moved to Warrington in 2022, and in between loans at Hull FC and Widnes has made 51 appearances in Primrose and Blue.

11. James McDonnell (Leeds Rhinos)

James McDonnell Leeds Rhinos Alamy
James McDonnell for Leeds Rhinos in 2024-Alamy

Irish international James McDonnell made his senior debut for the Warriors in 2020, but only made six appearances for the club between loan spells at Leigh and York Knights.

He was snapped up by Leeds Rhinos ahead of the 2023 season, and has found his feet in West Yorkshire. Since joining the club, McDonnell has become an established member of the first team squad, and his form this season earned him a call-up to the wider England squad to face France last month.

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12. Matty Nicholson (Warrington Wolves)

Matty Nicholson
Matty Nicholson on Wigan Warriors debut-Alamy

McDonnell’s England campmate Matty Nicholson is the third current Warrington player in the team.

Nicholson graduated into the Wigan Warriors first team in 2021, but had to wait until the 2022 season to make his senior debut for the club. He only made one senior appearance though, before joining Warrington later in the campaign.

Since his switch to the Wire, Nicholson has become a standout player and won two England caps. He is leaving the club at the end of the season to join the Canberra Raiders in the NRL.

13. Harry Rushton (Huddersfield Giants)

Harry Rushton Huddersfield Giants Alamy
Harry Rushton in action for Huddersfield Giants in 2024-Alamy

Rounding off our list is current Huddersfield Giants man Harry Rushton. Rushton made his one and only Warriors appearance during the 2020 season, and was quickly swept down under by the Canberra Raiders. After some solid showings in the reserves during the 2021 campaign, Rushton made his NRL debut for the Raiders in 2022, but only made three first team appearances for the club.

He returned to the UK last season to join Huddersfield Giants, and has since made 27 appearances for Ian Watson’s side.

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