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Josh Charnley determined to prove doubters wrong following union switch

Published 01/11/2016

Josh Charnley could make his rugby union debut on Friday
Josh Charnley could make his rugby union debut on Friday

Josh Charnley is determined to become one of rugby's dual-code success stories having had to convince his mother his union gamble was worthwhile.

The 25-year-old former Wigan Warriors winger signed off from Super League with a try in a Grand Final triumph last month and he is expected to make his union bow for Sale Sharks against Wasps in the Anglo Welsh Cup on Friday.

His decision to follow in the footsteps of players such as Jason Robinson, Chris Ashton and Sam Burgess in switching codes divided his own family and brought snide Twitter remarks from league loyalists for whom Burgess' ill-fated union experience still lingers.

Charnley insists he gives little attention to social media suggestions he will "be back (in league) in three or four weeks", but it was closer to home where his ambition to turn his hand to union was also considered unwise.

"My mum didn't want me to leave and my dad wanted me to accept a new challenge," he said.

"I had debates with my family for about three or four weeks which was tough because my mum and dad don't live together. Getting them to sit down and have a conversation about my career was hard but they did it because it's my future. We got there in the end.

"With what I'd achieved (in league), they think you're throwing it away. My mum was like, 'It (Wigan) is your second home'. I don't know why she was so against me leaving.

"I am risking everything because I've never played it. I'm chucking all my eggs into one basket here and it's one of those where I'm going to prove people wrong."

His mum has since come around to her son's decision and she ensured Charnley will start a new chapter in his career armed with a reminder of his time in league.

"Reflecting on what I have done in the past, my mum made a book, which I received a few days ago," he explained.

"Everyone who I've played with, even those who are now in the NRL, and all the coaches who took me through the reserves and the academy, have all written something in it. It took her about five-to-six months to do and I think there's about seven pages left in it."

That would leave plenty of space for clippings from Charnley's time in union, with his new club hopeful that the skills he displayed in league can be transferred, as they were for Robinson when he came over from Wigan 16 years ago.

And having cited the former England World Cup winner as an inspirational figure for his own career, Charnley wants to help alter the perception of union for those in league who may be considering the jump across themselves.

"I've had some stick over the few months when I've said I was leaving, saying I'll be back (in league) in three or four weeks," he revealed.

"But I want to give an opportunity for other league players if they ever get a chance to switch, to take it and don't doubt themselves."

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