Super League play-offs: George Williams aiming to go out on high at Wigan Warriors
Watch Wigan Warriors take on Salford Red Devils in Friday's Super League qualifying final, live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm.
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 19/09/19 11:42am
Since he was 12, George Williams has barely known life outside of the Wigan Warriors set-up.
Aside from a short loan spell with South Wales Scorpions during his rookie professional year in 2013, the half-back has been embedded at his hometown club since that young age.
But having grown up in the area, played as a junior for amateur clubs Ince Rose Bridge and Wigan St Patricks, along with being a part of the Warriors' Super League triumphs in 2016 and 2018, Williams will be leaving for Australia at the end of this season.
He is therefore determined to go out on a high as the Cherry and Whites begin this year's play-off campaign at home to Salford Red Devils on Friday.
"It's quite a cliche, but playing for Wigan was genuinely my dream," Williams told Sky Sports. "I signed for Wigan when I was 12-years-old on a scholarship, so I've been here 12 years now.
"Every day, I enjoy what I do, I love that I play for Wigan, but that's all going to change and I'm making the most of it while I can."
Williams will become the latest player from these shores to join Ricky Stuart's English revolution at Canberra Raiders. So why has he decided to leave behind Wigan for this new adventure?
"It's an opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do," Williams said. "I'll be 25 when I go and I think it's the right time for me to go and do that.
"I think I'm mature enough now to go and live there on my own on the other side of the world, and test myself in a new environment.
"It's going to be tough and I'm under no illusions that it's going to be a walk in the park, but it's pleasing when you see other English lads go over there and do well.
"I know people always say it's forwards and not backs [from England who succeed in the NRL], but hopefully I can make my own path and make a bit of a statement."
Williams is eager to make the same sort of impact as former Wigan team-mate John Bateman in Canberra, with the 25-year-old winning plaudits from both fans and pundits for his displays in the NRL this year.
He is in no doubt he is heading to Australia an improved player, thanks in part to the influence Warriors head coach and former Papua New Guinea international half-back Adrian Lam has had on him.
"He's brought something new and he's taught me so many things, just little things in my game," said Williams, who also praised Lam for sticking to his principles as Wigan recovered from a patchy start to the 2019 season to finish second in Super League.
"I'll have a look at where a certain defender is and what play in the right situation, but the biggest compliment I can give him is when it wasn't going well he was still believing in what he was saying.
"He kept the same philosophies, same structures and saying if we kept working hard it would turn - and it has done. Credit to him for not changing things when it wasn't going so well."
Wigan's turnaround in fortunes since the Magic Weekend defeat to Warrington Wolves at the end of May has been remarkable, with the Warriors suffering just one defeat in 13 games to vault themselves back into contention.
One of those victories came against Friday's play-off opponents Salford and Williams is determined to end the season back at Old Trafford, lifting the Super League trophy for the third time before heading to Australia.
"If I do manage to go out with another ring on my finger then I wouldn't even know what words to use to describe that," Williams said.
"At the time, I'd probably cry because I'd be that happy, so there is a lot to play for.
"Dan Sarginson is leaving as well, so it would be the last time this group had played together, and I'll make the most of it and do everything I can."