Sale Sharks sign Thornley

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The Independent Online

Sale Sharks have signed promising rugby league centre Iain Thornley from Wigan on a three-year contract.

Thornley, who stands at 6ft 4in and weighs over 15 stone, has played for the England Academy and was also being chased by a number of Australian rugby league clubs.

But the 18-year-old opted to follow in the footsteps of Jason Robinson, who made the cross-code switch from Wigan to neighbours Sale 10 years ago.

Sharks director of rugby Mike Brewer said: "Iain's name was brought to my attention shortly after arriving at the club and after having a look at him play and talking to him, I decided to sign him up.

"Iain is one of the hottest young properties in both codes of rugby. He has chosen to move to rugby union although he was a member of the Wigan first team squad and was attracting interest from Australian Rugby League sides.

"He is a big lad in peak condition who has pace, great handling skills and is very strong defensively.

"He will have to work hard but I have every confidence in him."

Wigan chairman Ian Lenegen said the loss of Thornley, a graduate of the club's famed academy, was "irritating" given the investment they had made in him.

Sale have also been linked to 20-year-old Wigan winger Stefan Marsh, who is also out of contract at the end of this season.

Lenegen insisted earlier this week that Wigan have not turned their back on home-grown products despite the triple signing of Ryan Hoffman, Brett Finch and Jeff Lima from Melbourne Storm.