TEENAGE sensation Joe Burgess has been backed to thrive in the Headingley pressure-cooker.
The 19-year-old’s duel with England World Cup winger Tom Briscoe is shaping as one of several intriguing sub-plots to tomorrow’s Super League showdown with Leeds.
He was outstanding in the derby triumph against St Helens, and Shaun Wane knows the player nicknamed ‘Budgie’ can strengthen his burgeoning credentials if he impresses against Briscoe.
He said: “It’s a great chance for Budgie – but it’s a big chance for Tom as well, because Budgie is playing well.
“He will be relishing it. I know his temperament and he won’t be fazed by going to Headingley – he’ll be looking forward to it. I’m hoping our edges will be ready, it’s a big challenge because their edges are very good.”
Burgess has been one of the finds of the season, scoring nine tries in 11 appearances since replacing Pat Richards on the left edge.
He has made the position his own, featuring in the World Club Challenge, and tomorrow’s contest in front of the Sky Sports cameras will give him a chance to showcase his talent.
“He’s not cocky at all, he’s a really nice kid, but he’s confident,” said Wane.
“Wingers here are frightened of chipping the ball over the top – they know what I’ll say if it doesn’t come off – but he did it on his debut and it came off. That told me he’s confident, he backs himself.”
On the opposite flank, Kiwi Anthony Gelling is likely to get the nod to shackle Ryan Hall after appearing in consecutive weeks having not featured since the home win over Wakefield on Mark 2.
“It’s a humdinger of a game, all the lads are pumped,” said Gelling at the prospect of making the trip to Headingley, where he scored a try in the 50-8 mauling of the Rhinos two years ago.
Warriors are still missing Josh Charnley, Iain Thornley, Ben Flower and Eddy Pettybourne. Leeds are without Rob Burrow with a broken collarbone but will welcome back Ryan Bailey, Ben Jones Bishop and Stevie Ward into their squad.
Wigan Warriors 19-man squad to face Leeds:
John Bateman, Matty Bowen, Joe Burgess, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Jack Hughes, Jordan James, Michael McIlorum, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, George Williams
Full-back Matty Bowen has revealed he is keen to stay at the DW Stadium for another year. The 32-year-old intially joined Wigan on a one-year deal but has shown interest in extending his stay.
Wigan have received an initial allocation of 1,316 tickets for the trip to Hull FC on Friday, May 9.