Orr eager to play Wigan's leading role in final test

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The Independent Online

When Danny Orr decided last season that it was time to leave his home-town club, it was the prospect of days like this Saturday that made the upheaval and the vilification worthwhile.

When Danny Orr decided last season that it was time to leave his home-town club, it was the prospect of days like this Saturday that made the upheaval and the vilification worthwhile.

Orr was the ultimate small-town hero, not just a cog in the wheel at Castleford, but its hub and several of its spokes as well. More than anyone at any other Super League club, he was the team. "But I wanted to play in finals," he says. "I wanted to win trophies." On Saturday, he gets his first chance, when he plays for Wigan in the sell-out Challenge Cup final against St Helens at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

It was not going to happen at Castleford, currently adrift at the foot of the table and missing their old captain even more than they feared they would, so Orr can feel vindicated.

Oddly, his main impression when he arrived at his new club this season was not that he was suddenly surrounded by better players, but by players who worked harder.

"Not that they didn't work hard at Cas," he said, "but here they work extra hard - and I believe that if you do that you get the rewards."

Orr has had to work hard himself to fit into a new team and a new role.

"It's probably not been as good as I would have liked," he said of his own early form. "I haven't been at my best every game, but it's getting better and better and I might have been saving it up for a big game on Saturday."

The difference for a player like Orr, coming from a club where he has been the dominant influence, is that, at Wigan, he has to slot in around players like Andy Farrell and Adrian Lam, who are used to calling the shots.

"There's not as much responsibility on me, with players like them and Terry Newton around," he said. "Adrian never stops talking and he organises us around the field, so I can come in and out of the game a bit more. It's a big change for me and I'm still settling in, but I'm coming to terms with it. At the same time, I'm enjoying it, because it gives me more of a free role."

It has been a big change for Orr. At the insistence of his new club, he has relocated from the only town he had ever lived and moved into a new house in Wigan, although the transition was eased by being able to spend a few weeks at his grandma's home in Salford and a few more with his new team-mate, Kris Radlinski. All the same, there is no doubt that he has left the tribe and he admits to having been edgy about his first return to Castleford with Wigan a couple of weeks ago, when he got what might be called politely a "mixed reception" from his old fans.

"I was very nervous all week and I wasn't really looking forward to it," he said. "I didn't have a good game, which was what I wanted to do. The club still means a lot to me and I still want them to do well."

His focus now, however, is on his first big occasion with his new club. "We haven't really spoken about being underdogs, although when you look at St Helens' recent form I suppose you'd have to say that's what we are. I've never been in a final, but one thing I know about them is that you can forget about form."

The one thing Wigan need if they are going to win, though, is for all their creative players to fire sufficiently to ask Saints a wide-enough range of questions in defence to blunt their potentially devastating attacking capabilities - and that includes Orr. With Lam not long back from injury and Farrell now just as valuable to the side as a running forward rather than a play-maker, they need him to be a major influence in Cardiff.

That is fine by him. He came to a big club not just to play in big games, but to play a big role in them as well.

"My international debut was a big day for me, but this is the most important game of my career so far," he said. "I don't know whether most people in Castleford will want me to win, but my friends there have wished me well."

Orr has a new set of supporters to win over and some of them remain to be convinced that he was a sound investment for a club which struggles to retain its own local players within its salary cap. One of his Castleford performances on a stage where Cas cannot realistically aspire to perform would go a long way towards proving the point.

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