MIKE Gregory was at the heart of some exciting Warrington Rugby League Football Club years and he is one of the club's all-time heroes.

Gregory's back row quality was a major asset as Wire reached eight cup finals in the first eight of his 12 seasons at Wilderspool Stadium.

Gregory was captain of the team for two of those shots at glory and his leadership qualities were highly valued at international level too.

Gregory became only the second Warrington player to captain the GB side and his 20 international appearances, including one as a substitute, make him the club's most capped player of all time.

His professional career started with a flourish and went from strength to strength until injury setbacks littered the tail end of his playing days, before he turned his hand to coaching.

It is testimony to the man that even though Greg is the head coach of Wigan, one of the archest of Warrington's rivals, he is still held in such high regard by the Wolves faithful for what he did for the primrose and blue team between 1982 and 1994.

After signing from Wigan St Patricks in June, 1982 - incidentally the same month as Billy McGinty joined Wire - Gregory burst on to the Wilderspool scene to make a back row spot, and most notably the loose forward jersey, his own.

He was one of the new breed of forwards, committed, smart, mobile, fast, strong, tackled like a Trojan and possessed good ball distribution skills.

Gregory was work-hungry and through being a full-time professional he was able to spend many hours of the week in O'Malley's gym building up his strength and stamina.

In Warrington he became known as Captain Marvel for the way he led by example with non-stop energy and for the way he inspired the others around him. All of these qualities led to his club and country honours.

Early on, Kevin Ashcroft received instant dividends from his prized catch as only 10 matches into Gregory's career he joined skipper Ken Kelly and company in lifting the Lancashire Cup against St Helens at his home-town Central Park ground in 1983.

Although he also appeared in the 1985 Lancashire Cup final defeat to Wigan, his and many of his teammates' finest hour was just around the corner. Greg was in the No.13 shirt when Warrington defied the challenge of the champions to convincingly defeat Halifax in the 1986 Premiership Trophy final at Elland Road.

There were runners-up spots for Gregory in 1987's John Player Trophy and Lancashire Cup finals but he was a British Coal Nines tournament winner in 1988 when Warrington defeated Rest of the World in the final at Central Park.

Another proud club moment for Greg was his first trophy success as captain of the team, which came in the Lancashire Cup against Oldham at Knowsley Road in 1989.

And at Wembley he led out Warrington, scored one try and set up another for his good friend Dave Lyon when Wire last appeared in a Challenge Cup final, which was in 1990 against Wigan.

All of the club success, combined with his international achievements, appeared to then take their toll as numerous injuries left Greg only being able to take to the field 27 times in his final four years with Warrington.

His Test debut was memorable. Greg scored two tries in a record defeat of France at Headingley and no-one will ever forget, on his first tour in 1988, the 75 metres try he scored against Australia that led to a GB victory in the third Test at Sydney Football Stadium.

Gregory went on to skipper his country in the 2-1 series defeat of New Zealand in 1989 and was captain for the following year's tour, when the Lions again defeated the Kiwis 2-1.

The qualities he had shown as a clubman had gone on to stand out at the highest level and the game as a whole will always be grateful for the value he gave as a Warrington player.