IAN Lenagan says Wigan’s scouting system has made rapid progress – and predicts it will get twice as good in the future.
The Warriors chairman has invested heavily to crank up the production line of home-grown talent coming through the ranks at the club.
Last Friday night teenage forward Jack Hughes made his Super League debut in the 54-6 mauling of Harlequins.
And Michael Maguire – who has also handed debuts to Liam Farrell, Stefan Marsh and Josh Charnley under his watch – says more young-guns, such as Dom Crosby and Logan Tomkins, are knocking on the first-team door.
Currently, 22 of the top 32 players are either Wigan-born or trained, and Lenagan wants to increase that figure over the coming seasons.
He said: “We have put a lot of investment into our scouting system.
“I’d say we are about 40 per cent of where we want to be.
“But I said at the start when I took over three-and-a-half years ago that it was a long-term plan, and we are definitely going in the right way.”
Wigan legend Kris Radlinski, himself a product of Wigan’s academy system, has been charged with the task of overseeing the scouting expansion plans.
And he says the network of contacts – and the identifying of junior talent – has advanced a long way in the past few years.
“The scouting system has certainly changed,” the former Great Britain full-back said.
“It used to be a flat-cap brigade of ‘He’s a good ‘un, get him signed up’.
“Now we are looking at areas like genetics, down to details such as the size of their feet and how big their hips are, because we can do certain tests so we can tell what kind of athletes they are going to end up like.”
He says Wigan now have scouts covering both codes across the country, adding: “We used to have five scouts covering the North West, now we have 15. We have contacts in London, we have people at every junior rugby league international. Our boundaries are rugby league and union, and maybe athletics, but it’s an area we are continually looking to strengthen.”