James in shock Wigan switch
Veteran Wales international Jordan James has made a surprise First Utility Super League comeback with champions Wigan Warriors.
The 33-year-old prop forward joined the Warriors' coaching staff at the end of the World Cup and had agreed a two-year deal to play part-time rugby with Championship One club Gloucestershire All Golds.
However, James asked Wigan coach Shaun Wane for another chance to play at the highest level and he was today given a 12-month contract.
"He knocked on my door one day and said 'I think I can still do it and I want a chance'," Wane said.
"That took some bottle. But, at the back of my mind, I did want to get him.
"I thought he was one of Wales' best players in the World Cup. He carries the ball strong. I like him; he's very professional."
James, who had a brief spell at Wigan earlier in his career, making six appearances under Brian Noble in 2006, played in all but five of Salford Red Devils’ 29 matches in 2013 and appeared in all three of Wales' fixtures at the World Cup.
"Obviously I was already on the coaching staff and, after the World Cup when I thought I did okay, my body still felt good," said James, who equalled the Welsh appearance record when he won his 30th cap against the Cook Islands in November.
"I approached Waney and I have to thank him for giving me an opportunity.
"No disrespect to the All Golds but I wasn't ready to step down yet. I thought I had a good year at Salford, probably one of my better years in Super League.
"I'm going to be training full-time and coaching the Under-19s with John Winder and Matty Peet and hopefully trying to get down to south Wales once a month."
Now, instead of preparing to play in rugby league's third tier, James is set for a role in next month's World Club Challenge against Sydney Roosters in Sydney, a prospect that was unthinkable when his Salford team ended 2013 with the Super League wooden spoon.
"I wouldn't have had to pinch myself, I would have had to punch myself to wake up to that one," James said.
"It would be phenomenal but I'm not thinking about that too much at the moment. I just want to make sure I impress in these friendlies and give Waney an opportunity to pick me.
"I'm here to push for a place. I'll be one of the oldest, if the not the oldest, but hopefully I can give the young guns a run for their money. I'm not here just to make up the numbers."