Wigan Warriors are set to lose Josh Charnley this autumn after confirmation that the seven-cap England rugby league international will switch codes and join Aviva Premiership outfit Sale Sharks at the end of his current contract. The 24-year-old wing has spent his entire senior career at the DW Stadium aside from a brief period with Hull Kingston Rovers, winning two titles and two Challenge Cup crowns.
Charnley underlined his quality on Easter Monday as he notched a hat-trick of tries that helped Shaun Wane's side seal a comfortable home win over Hull KR. That was their second victory in succession following a 24-12 triumph over fierce rivals St Helens at Langtree Park and second-place Wigan, who narrowly lost last year's Grand Final to the treble-winning Leeds Rhinos, are currently level on points with Super League leaders Warrington.
"[general manager] Kris Radlinski and I have been in negotiations with Josh Charnley and his representatives for more than a year and have done everything possible to allow Josh to stay at Wigan and rekindle his partnership with Sam Tomkins," chairman Ian Lenagan said in an official statement to confirm the departure of both Charnley and Gold Coast Titans-bound Dan Sarginson.
"We offered Josh a new long-term contract that would put him up there with the biggest earners at the club but having won so much at Wigan, he feels that the time is right to take on a new challenge. After seeing Josh return to form this year after an indifferent 2015 season, we are naturally disappointed with his decision but would like to thank him for everything that he has done for the Wigan club. His try-scoring record is impeccable and we hope that he can leave Wigan on a high at the end of the season."
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond added: "Josh is a great signing for us. He was schooled in the famous Wigan Academy and everyone I have spoken to rates him very highly. He has explosive pace and can play either full back or on the wing.
"The last big signing we made from Wigan back in 2000 was Jason Robinson and what impact he had. I am sure Josh will fit in perfectly with us at Sale Sharks and look forward to him joining us in the autumn."