For men from England’s North on a trip that perhaps never should have been, six Wigan Warriors fanatics this week were met with a welcome at the Sharks Leagues Club as warm as the Sydney Summer itself.
Travelling to the Shire ahead of the World Club Challenge, the Englishmen – who booked their trip Down Under long before the details of the match were finalised – had expected to watch their beloved Wigan side take on the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Though residing just a stone’s throw away from the DW Stadium in Wigan, the half-dozen parochial Warriors fans will let their voices be heard at the Sharks Leagues Club in the early hours of Monday morning.
“For us, we originally booked the trip thinking the match would be out here,” said Mark Kelly, one of the travelling party.
“But to us, we’ve been treated like royalty from the moment we walked through the door.
“Everyone at the Club made us feel welcome, it’s been an unbelievable experience. To be able to walk out on to the pitch, to hold the trophy which so many of the game’s greatest have, to see the dressing rooms … it’s been a day we’ll never forget.”
Proudly sporting the Cherry and White – mixed with a dash of blue, also – Kelly said though while barracking for Wigan in the World Club Challenge, he’s now a soft spot for the 2016 NRL Premiers.
“We all watch on and keep up with the NRL back at home … a few of us had followed the Bunnies (Rabbitohs), there’s a couple of Englishmen there,” said Kelly.
“But we’re Sharks now. We’ll be putting on the black, white and blue as soon as we get home and get back to keeping up with the NRL.
“The way we’d been looked after, it’s a truly special place here. It's changed my life.”
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