Iain Thornley admits the emotional pull of playing for Wigan Warriors again was too good to turn down after joining his hometown club for a third time.
The 30-year-old centre first signed for Wigan as an 11-year-old but then cross codes as a teenager and spent time at Sale Sharks and Leeds Carnegie.
The Warriors re-signed him in 2012 and he went on to help the club to a Challenge Cup and Super League double the following season.
Thornley scored in the 2013 Challenge Cup final win over Hull FC at Wembley and then helped Shaun Wane’s side to beat Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford at the end of that season.
After spells at Hull Kingston Rovers, Catalans Dragons and Leigh, Thornley is delighted to be back at the club he calls home following his surprise switch from the relegated Centurions.
Thornley told Rugby League Live: “It’s a nice feeling to be back at the club who took me on as an 11-year-old kid.
“I came back to Wigan halfway through 2012 and did about three years here after that.
“But 2013 was a great season because we did the Challenge Cup and Super League double, so if I can replicate anything like that 2013 season it would be fantastic.
“Even just signing for the club is right up there with winning the double in 2013.
“All my family and friends support Wigan and the club I first started at – Ashton Bears – are all big Wigan fans too.
“My son has just started playing rugby there and he will see me play for Wigan, which will be a proud moment for my family and I.
“There is a lot of pride and passion for Wigan Warriors from my friends and family, which makes me coming back here even more special.
“It also makes it harder because it adds to the expectancy and pressure to perform.”
Thornley is delighted to be reunited with Wane and Matty Peet having worked with them at the club during his previous spell.
Thornley explained: “Shaun has known me since I was a young kid. I came through the Academy and he was in charge of the Under-21s at the time.
“I was in the Under-18s and then played for him at Under-21s level and then when he was head coach of the first-team.
“Shaun has been around for a lot of my career and it’s nice to have another familiar face in Matty Peet who I have worked with before as well.
“Obviously playing with Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) and playing against Lee Briers, there are quite a few lads I know here.”
With England centre Oliver Gildart joined Jackson Hastings in leaving Wigan for NRL side Wests Tigers, Thornley is hoping to prove the ideal replacement.
He added: “I can’t take anything for granted and need to put the hard work in during pre-season and show what I can do – and prove I deserve that spot.
“There will be trial games, of course, before the new campaign starts and there are so many young lads snapping at your heels, fighting for a spot.
“That’s how they have got their chances, so it’s going to be competitive across the park and you cannot afford to have a day off.
“You have to concentrate and be on your game all the time.”