Editorial September 9 2017

This is more than a sporting contest.

The deal was done to seal the Illawarra the first Super League clash outside the UK between Wigan and Hull FC. For many sporting deals, that would be it. No bells, no whistles.

Yet, this is clearly more than just a football match.

From the very outset Wigan has said this was also about establishing a strong relationship and networks between the two regions.

Even from the club’s visit to the Illawarra this week it is clear Wigan are not only talking the talk, they are walking the walk.

Wigan great Kris Radlinski was a formidable force on the ground during his playing career.

He is just as formidable off it.

Radlinski has been in the Illawarra all week, establishing relationships and looking at ways his club can work with the community in the lead-up to and after the Wigan’s visit in February next year.

When Radlinski addresses a crowd of 100 business leaders at a special luncheon on the surface of the WIN Stadium and says his club will leave a positive mark on this community, you believe him.

And actions are speaking louder than words.

Announced exclusively in the Illawarra Mercury this week, the UK clubs and the St George Illawarra Dragons  will hold a massive gala day during their visit next year.

The entire squads from all three clubs will go out to schools across the Illawarra and hold clinics to ensure the game of rugby league is spread far and wide.

It’s a powerful gesture and one which will have lasting impacts long after both Hull FC and Wigan have returned to their homeland.

“In the lead-up to the match we will be teaming with Hull and the St George Illawarra Dragons to hold training camps with schools and clubs and share some of our knowledge and skills,” he said.

“Members of our teams and coaching staff will be travelling throughout the Illawarra engaging with current and next generation players.” 

Even in a week, Wigan have left a mark and they will now doubt have a legion of young fans by the time they bid farewell next February.

However, the makings are showing of a long and lasting beautiful relationship.

When tickets go on sale next week, make sure you do not miss this piece of history.