Leagues

Super League news: Michael McIlorum leaves Wigan to join Catalans Dragons

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Michael McIlorum has ended a long association at Wigan to sign a two-year deal with Catalans Dragons while Anthony Gelling has also been granted an early release from his Warriors contract.

McIlorum first joined the club as a junior in 2005 before making his first-team debut two years later, going on to play in 242 games and feature in the sides that won the Super League Grand Final in 2010 and 2013.

Injury sidelined the hooker for the majority of 2016, when Wigan defeated Warrington in the Grand Final, but he returned to action last season and was part of Ireland's Rugby League World Cup squad.

But with Sam Powell, Thomas Leuluai and Josh Ganson providing strong competition in the dummy-half role, Wigan have agreed to end McIlorum's contract early and the 29-year-old has decided on a switch to Perpignan.

"After speaking with (chairman) Ian (Lenagan) it was made clear my future was elsewhere and with interest from a couple of clubs it was agreed now was the best time to part company," McIlorum, who played for England between 2012 and 2013, said.

"It's now time for a new challenge for me and my family in another country which we are relishing with Catalans Dragons and are grateful to them for the opportunity."

Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara said on the club website: "In signing Michael, we have brought to the club one of the fiercest competitors in rugby league."

Gelling has also left Wigan early to return to his native New Zealand after six seasons at the DW Stadium.

The centre registered 52 tries in 115 games although his departure is mitigated by Wigan re-signing Dan Sarginson last month.

"It's always tough to move on. I've given up my twenties to represent the club and had an absolute blast in doing so," Gelling said.

"My family has always stood by me during my time away and the time has come to put them first."

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said: "I'm sad to see Anthony go, he has improved greatly during his time at Wigan and the coaching staff and I are proud of the progress he has made. He will be missed around the club and he leaves with our best wishes."

On McIlorum, he added: "Having thought about it for some time we are all in agreement that it is the right time for Micky and the club to go their separate ways.

"Micky is a player who I hold close to my heart, I've known him for a long time and I've enjoyed watching him develop as both a player and a man over many years. I've every respect for him, he's always given his very best for Wigan and I'm sure he will be remembered for that."

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