Michael McIlorum parted ways with Wigan on rather uncertain terms after receiving a number of lucrative offers after the Rugby League World Cup. His vision, however, for the next part of his career is from confused.
McIlorum joins Catalans on a two-year deal off the back of 244 games for Wigan, who agreed to end his contract earlier this month in order to facilitate a move to another club. Despite leaving his adopted home behind for the south of France, the Ireland international hooker saw the move as a logical step in his career. McIlorum explained:
“I’ve always said to myself and my partner that it would be lovely to come out here for a couple of years a bit later on in my career but as it happens, I’m 30 years old today, so I’ve got plenty of rugby in me. It’s come a bit sooner than I thought but I’m looking forward to it.”
He does, however, see the funny side of his move to Perpignan:
“I grew up with Jodie Broughton playing against him at Wigan and we’ve said ‘who’d have thought a lad from where I’m from would end up in the south of France’. It’s quite funny when you look at it but it’s something that I’m really enjoying.”
There’s no doubt McIlorum is enjoying the short spell he’s had in France so far and he is equally driven to push Catalans to another level. It is not surprising then, that Steve McNamara jumped at the opportunity to bring “one of the fiercest competitors in rugby league” to a team that was in dire need of some grit last season. McIlorum echoes the sentiment with regard to McNamara and his new team mates and is as ambitious as ever:
“Perpignan is always a tough place to come but there’s that sort of thing that [Catalans] don’t really travel well and obviously I’m here to try and change that. We need to win as many games away as we do at home and with Steve [McNamara] coming in, with that change of culture and environment I’m hoping it does change and I’m hoping to be a part of that.”
McIlorum is joined at Catalans by another high profile signing, David Mead. Although far flashier (THAT David Mead try), Mead has an equally pragmatic and driven approach to the new challenge ahead:
“I really enjoy playing fullback and it’s probably my preferred position out of all the back line positions, but wherever Steve wants me to play and wherever is best for the team [I’ll play]. As long as I’m putting on the Catalans shirt I’ll be happy.”
Mead’s move is equally as surprising as McIlorum’s. Coming from the Brisbane Broncos, who once again will look to mount a strong title challenge this year, Mead has left behind a classy career in the NRL for last year’s Million Pound Game winners.
Despite the poor performance last year, Catalans’ prospects for the season ahead look promising with great squad depth and a seemingly invigorated regime. There’s no doubt that the international class double signing of McIlorum and Mead is yet another step towards a top 8 finish or better; the pair will look to right the wrongs of last year and they are clearly in the right mind set to do so.