Heggie: ‘I love being part of this growing community’

Jack Heggie sat down before the betfred wheelchair Challenge Cup Final to talk through playing disability sports, feeling part of a community and creating history.

The Warriors will be aiming to write another piece of history by lifting the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup in their first Final appearance on Saturday afternoon when they face current holders Catalans Dragons at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport live on BBC Sport.

After featuring from the interchange bench in Wigan’s 70-32 quarter-final win over Halifax Panthers at Robin Park Arena, Heggie, who has been selected in the England National Performance Squad for 2024, scored twice on his return to action as the Warriors recorded a historic 48-30 victory against Leeds Rhinos to reach the Final of the competition for the first time.

“We’ve had a tough run to get to this stage and it certainly doesn’t get any easier against Catalans,” Heggie said. “It’s a great achievement to be in the Final but it would be a bigger achievement if we were to win it.”

Heggie began his Wheelchair Rugby League career in 2009 at Bury Jigsaw Wheelchair Rugby League Club before he received a call up to the England squad in 2010 for a fixture against France in Cahors.

Despite his rapid rise to the Wheelchair Rugby League international stage, Heggie began his career in disability sport playing Wheelchair Basketball alongside his late father, Jim, who for more than 20 years played, coached, and worked tirelessly at local side Bolton Bulls.

“A lot of people ask why I play wheelchair sports with me being a non-disabled player,” Heggie said. “My dad was a wheelchair user after a spinal cord injury so where a lot of father and son’s would bond through rugby and football, we’d do so through wheelchair sports – although he was a very good goalkeeper when it came to football.

“Initially I played Wheelchair Basketball but after speaking to a few of the lads who also played Wheelchair Rugby League, I was invited down to a taster session and never looked back.”

As Wheelchair Rugby League continues to progress on and off the court, Heggie, who is a Technical Expert at a Leading Sports Performance Technology and Analytics company, is using his occupational expertise to the Warriors advantage.

Jack Heggie at the Betfred Super League launch. Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com

“I’ve faced stick from the lads as I’m a bit of a sports geek,” Heggie laughed. “I have the software for video analysis so on a Wednesday evening we have an hour analysis before a two hour training session.

“We are very lucky that within Wheelchair Rugby League now there’s a lot of video availability – live streams of matches, recordings, training footage – so I rewatch previous matches and start tagging key events which we go away and focus on in preparation for our upcoming matches.

“Part of the analysis is internal where we look at on our own player development and our principles in defence and attack, as well as opposition analysis. We aim to look at how we can take away a team’s strengths whilst exploiting their weaknesses. We were speaking at training last week how we are starting to see the benefits.”

The Warriors fell short to Catalans in the European Wheelchair Rugby League Club Championship at Robin Park Arena in April. Despite missing the 68-28 defeat, Heggie is confident the French side will face a different Warriors outfit in the Challenge Cup Final.

“It was a tough game and I don’t think the result reflected the effort that we put in,” Heggie said. “We played Catalans at a stage where they were like a well-oiled machine in one of their season ending games whereas we were building our fitness ahead of our first competitive game of the season.

“We took a lot from the European Cup Final and since then we’ve played a handful of games which has helped us develop. We will be facing Catalans as a different team in the Challenge Cup Final.”

Having recorded numerous monumental results over the last year, Heggie and his teammates are driven to creating further history in South Yorkshire this weekend.

“In our first few years we’ve won a Grand Final, we’ve been in a European Cup Final, and now we are in the Challenge Cup Final,” he said. “I’d like to hope we are living up to the story and the history built around the Wigan Warriors name.”

Heggie has been named in the Warriors Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final squad alongside Chris Greenhalgh, Adam Rigby, Phil Roberts and Declan Roberts – individuals who Jack has shared the court with for more than a decade.

“I class them as mates, not just teammates,” Heggie said. “We don’t just get together and play matches, there is a massive social aspect away from the court but it just so happens that we are also all pretty good at Wheelchair Rugby League together.

“I believe the strength of our cohesion and the trust built from being friends for so long is what makes us such a good team and separates us from others. It runs through all the different squads at the Club – I love being part of a growing community at Wigan Warriors.”

Tickets for Saturday’s Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final can be purchased online HERE. Alternatively, the Final will be shown live on BBC Sport with the action getting underway at 1:30pm.

Friday 31 May 2024