GREG Burke is ready to take on new competition for places as he looks to kick-on next season.
The 20-year-old utility forward made 17 appearances in the first team last season, bulldozing over for a memorable try against Catalan Dragons in March.
But the robust unit says he has his work cut out to cement his place in Shaun Wane’s first choice 17 thanks to new recruits at the club.
“H (Harrison Hansen) has left and that has opened up
another spot which quite a few of us are vying for,” said Burke, who started in the second row once during 2013.
“We’ll all be giving it our best to get in for that first game.”
Burke covered the loose forward role during the majority of skipper Sean O’Loughlin’s injury absence during last June and July and said he is ‘always happy to back up’ should the position need covering again.
But with O’Loughlin’s spot unlikely to be vacated any time soon, Burke, who was handed the number 20 shirt for next season, is out to snatch a spot elsewhere in the pack for himself along with a clutch of young hopefuls.
“The younger lads have been great,” he said on how they have taken to training.
“They are probably not quite big enough or physical enough yet but what they do is bring in plenty of enthusiasm which can only be good for the club.”
Burke thinks the fresh faces in the squad, such as ex-London Broncos pair Tony clubb and Dan Sarginson will also turn the competition among squad members up a notch in int raining.
Sarginson, although patrolling the field in a different position to Burke, is in the same age group as the Rose Bridge product and has, according to Burke, raised the bar in terms of fitness.
“Sarginson’s been killing it in fitness,” he said.
“I’ve known him since I was 16 playing with England and he’s always been a freak with fitness tests and all that so it wasn’t a shock to me.
“He’s leading the way so fair play to him.
“Some of the new lads come in and they hear stories of it being tough here at Wigan but they don’t realise how tough it is until they get there.,
“A couple of them were telling me about how they used to do loads of hill running at their old clubs and they get here and after two weeks they’re really sore.
“It’s a completely different place.”
As impressed Burke has been with his new colleagues, his focus is on himself though.
Looking at the next 12 months and where Burke, who turns 21 the day Wigan face NZ Warriors would like to be, he said: “I need to try and get the same number of games I got last year and go on from there.
I need to be more dominant on the field.”