SHAUN Wane says the duel to fill George Carmont’s spot is wide open – despite giving Jack Hughes the No.4 shirt.
Carmont’s departure has left a huge void in the Warriors backline.
And with academy-product Hughes, 20, given a ‘starting’ number it led to suggestions he was in pole position to fill the role.
But Iain Thornley – given the No.17 shirt – will get an equal chance to try and prove he warrants a place on the left flank, according to Wane.
He said: “Towards the end of the year Jack played really well for us.
“But Iain has trained really well, so they’ll both get a chance.
“It’s up to them. There’s one spot, two players – whoever’s doing the best will play. It’s up to them, and they’re both aware of that – 100 per cent.
“People shouldn’t read too much into the squad numbers.
“I needed to put someone in there, but if Iain plays well he will have a chance – and it’s exactly the same for Jack.”
Hughes covered at centre earlier last season when Carmont was injured but has seen a lot of action at second-row. Thornley, brought back to the club from Sale midway through last season, is also big enough to play in the pack – while he tasted first-team action on the wing last term.
“I like having back-rowers who can play in the centre, centres who can play on the wing – you can throw Anthony Gelling into that mix – because it gives me more options and better competition,” added Wane.
Carmont, meanwhile, is understood to have decided to retire from the sport.
The 34-year-old recently trained with the New Zealand Warriors after returning to Auckland with his family, but is thought to have abandoned plans of a swansong season in the NRL.