GREG Inglis says he is coming to Super League to prove something to himself and to help Warrington Wolves win ‘the big one’.

The Australian superstar has made a promise to Wire fans, too, ahead of joining the primrose and blue ranks for 2021, while also not ruling out staying longer than the one-year deal he has signed should everything go well in his comeback campaign from retirement.

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Scoring for Australia against England. Picture:

Former Australia, Queensland, South Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm ace Inglis, the most decorated rugby league player of the 21st century, told the Guardian in a one-to-one phone interview that he feels ready to deliver again and silence any knockers - after getting on top of the mental health issues that contributed to his decision in hanging up his boots 13 months ago.

As a three-times NRL Grand Final winner, who has a stunning collection of individual awards that includes the Golden Boot as world player of the year, the 33-year-old now desires another tick on his list of achievements.

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Player-of-the-series Greg Inglis is in good company alongside skipper Darren Lockyer and man-of-the-match Jonathan Thurston as he celebrates a tournament victory over England in 2009. Picture: 

And he mentioned willingly playing in a position that many may not have considered for the 6ft 4in and 18st powerhouse who has a destructive ball-carrying game.

“Lifting the Premiership trophy (league title) over there is my drive,” said Inglis, who has shone in all the back positions since his 265-match NRL career began with Melbourne in 2005.

“But also my drive is to get back to where I was, and leave the game on my terms.”

READ: How Greg Inglis' signing with Warrington Wolves came about

With his ‘terms’, Inglis is referring to finally hanging up the boots in the kind of happier circumstances such a career deserves.

“South Sydney never forced me into retirement in any regard, it was just myself and my body at that time that swayed me,” said Inglis, who scored 31 tries in 39 Test matches for the Kangaroos but called time on his career in April 2019 after two appearances that season.

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“I had a lot of people saying I don’t think it’s the right thing, but me being stubborn and me being hot-headed at that time I thought it was the right choice.

“I felt like I just couldn’t live up to the expectations anymore, and that wasn’t the expectations of anyone else, I felt like I was failing myself.

“But having time away from the game and having the conversations with family before I made this decision, it has given me my drive back.

READ: How Wire fans reacted to signing of Greg Inglis

“My drive is to get over there, add value, and do what I can in the best way I can.

“That’s just to play footy week-in week-out and to help give us, Warrington Wolves, the best chance we can of winning a Premiership. And the only way we can give ourselves the best chance to do that is to finish in the top four.”

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Sixth from left with his Australia teammates for the 2013 World Cup Final against New Zealand at Old Trafford. Picture:

Adding Inglis to a squad packed with international talent is a clear indication of The Wire chiefs’ continuing relentless pursuit of the holy grail beyond this year’s bid - a first Super League title and being crowned champions for the first time since 1955.

Inglis knows a thing or two about making Championship dreams happen, having contributed significantly to South Sydney’s first Premiership triumph for 43 years in 2014.

“To bring something back like that, getting it over the line, it wouldn’t be just me adding to the team. I’ve always been about the team, about the squad and my club, and the people within the organisation,” he said.

“I keep coming back down to it’s a team sport, it’s the team culture. We all work to be on the same page going into every single game.

READ: This is like Allan Langer coup all over again

“We all want what is best for the outcome, but for that to happen we have to turn up and perform week-in week-out to make sure we give ourselves the best chance and as I keep saying to finish in the top four. Once we get into the top four then it’s a whole different ball game.

“There’s a great leader there in Hilly (Chris Hill), a captain who has played international footy, there’s great halves in Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop, and all this of me signing wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a simple phone call from my good mate Jason Clark (current Wire back-rower).

“Winning a Premiership would top it off in terms of the club and the team itself and I’d be happy knowing that I’ve added to that special day for the club.”Warrington Guardian:

Lifting the World Club Challenge trophy as captain of South Sydney Rabbitohs following victory over St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium in 2015. Picture:

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And among his teammates celebrating that win is current Wire back-rower Jason Clark, far right. Picture:

He liked the scenes in the aftermath of winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley last year, all the celebrations and the homecoming, and has heard all about it first-hand from Bryson Goodwin who returned to South Sydney at the end of last year with a winners’ medal in his pocket.

“Clarky’s sister over here spread that all over social media over this side of the world,” he said.

“I’ve seen those images, and I was talking to Bryson Goodwin about it too as he’s just come back from playing with Warrington.

“I’m sure as a club, and as fans, as a team, as a squad, we will want to bring that trophy back to Warrington again.

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Bryson Goodwin and his skipper Greg Inglis celebrating the 2015 World Club Challenge triumph at St Helens. Picture:

“It’s a longer season over there than in the NRL, it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take patience (in the bid to reach the top four), but in the end I’m confident in myself and I’m confident in the squad I see on paper and with Pricey there.

“From the success that they had last year they will go back and realise just how good that feeling was to lift up the Challenge Cup and I can only imagine that they’d feel even better to lift the big one up.”

And that brings us back to Inglis wanting to prove his worth again.

“I want to get back into it, I want to prove things to myself, that’s just in my nature, that’s who I am and pretty much how my brain works,” he said.

“I’m a competitive person. I like proving people wrong.

READ: How the news broke of Inglis signing for Warrington

“Another thing is I want to give it one more shot and to do so with as much as I can give.

“I’ve been playing this sport since I was four years old, I love this game and I think time away has given my body time to heal and I think it’s time to make a comeback.

“Who knows what’s going to happen in 10 months, but all my focus now is on getting over there and playing the best footy I can.

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“It may not happen in the first couple of weeks, as I will have to adjust to the weather, the climate, playing on different surfaces and playing in what will be a whole new team for me.

“Don’t expect the Greg Inglis that people saw in the highlights reels in the first couple of weeks that’s for sure, but I promise you that I’ll get back to my very best within that time.”

It will be closing in on two years since his last game when the 2021 season does arrive for him, so how will he keep himself motivated for the day-to-day grind again, all the bumps and bruises that come with being a professional rugby league player and especially one who commits himself as fully as Inglis has throughout his career?

“I just have to keep focused. Warrington have shown good faith in me and so have my friends and family, and the people I work with that are close to me here that have helped me get this deal. Obviously, I don’t want to disappoint those people going out on a limb for me,” said Inglis.

“I’m not going over there for a holiday, I’m going over there to do a job. And my job is to play whatever role Pricey (head coach Steve Price) gives me, I’m there to do it the best possible way I can.”

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Many feel Price will be looking at Inglis to fulfil a role in the centres, where he has served all levels of rugby with distinction, though he will provide utility value too having also made a similarly huge mark on the game as a full-back and stand-off.

But Inglis threw another position into the mix when asked where he thinks he could fit into the side.

“I’m not coming over there and trying to push anyone out, that’s Pricey’s call and the call of his assistant coaches and the way he wants to see me play the game,” he said.

“If he wants me to play centre, back row, bench, I’m there. I will give it my all. I’m going to give it the best I can in whatever position he desires to play me in.”

If all goes well next year, will that be the end, or has he given it thought of staying longer?

“When it comes to that, it’ll go back to the basics and square one, it’ll go back to communication with my family, my support network back home, my grandparents who have been my number one supporters, it’ll just go back to a chat with them and see how we go from there,” he said.

That was the approach he took in coming to the decision that he wanted to make a comeback after a year off the field that he described as a ‘rollercoaster’.

A month after retiring he checked himself into a rehab centre in Sydney to help get on top of the mental health issues he was having.

Inglis, who now takes daily medicine for bipolar II disorder, sought similar professional help two years earlier.

The 2018 season ended badly for him with a drink-driving charge that led to him being stripped of the Australian team captaincy within a day of being handed it, and he was suspended for two Test matches as well which means his last appearances for his country came in 2016.

“The easiest way to describe my last 12 months is that it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride,” said Inglis.

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“After retirement, I never had a plan.

“The timing of the retirement I thought, at the time, was in my best interests.

“I felt like I couldn’t be the player and leader that I was and had been.

“I’d been in the system from a young age. My first pre-season, although only for three weeks, was at Melbourne Storm at the age of 16, and from then it was pre-seasons from 17 years of age.

“It’s quite demanding with the way I play the game, just wanting to go out there and give 100 percent every time.

“I’m in a great place at the moment, I’ve worked hard on myself, I’ve got rid of a lot of toxic environment that was around me at the time.

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“In saying that, the ones that have been there for the last 12 months, my family, my footy family – the ones who have stayed in contact with me through dark times, family, friends, the support from those guys who I’ve known for years, my ex-partner and our kids together who have been supportive at this move, my current partner and her family as well. It hasn’t been an easy decision.

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Greg Inglis in training back in 2015. Picture:

“But when I got back into training with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as a development assistant coach by helping out with the 16s, 18s, 20s and now reserve grade squad up to first grade it gave me the passion and drive back in wanting to succeed again.

“It gave my body time to heal and I just feel like I want to come back and have one more good crack at it. And what better way then to come over there, enjoy the experience of the Super League and everything that the league and the UK have to offer.

“I played over there many times with Australia and in World Club Challenges but to be there for a full season is going to be something different.

“I keep saying in interviews that I’ve done, I’m not going there on a holiday. I’m heading over there to hopefully add some quality value to the team.”

He said he will be bringing his ‘goanna’ try celebration with him, crawling on all fours and replicating the movement of a monitor lizard that resonates with his Indigenous origins and has become his signature since the 80th-minute try that capped South Sydney’s 2014 title success.

It will make every try in primrose and blue even more memorable.

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For him, he has an aim for how his time with Warrington will be remembered when it eventually ends.

“I will want to be remembered as a player who came over from Australia and gave the best he could in helping to deliver the best chance so that we could get to that end goal,” he said.

“But that’s a long way away, there’s a lot of hurdles to jump throughout next season.”