Crocked Cross still has big role

MICHAEL Maguire insists Ben Cross will still have a role to play in Wigan’s trophy hunt despite confirming he will not play for the club again.

Cross met with surgeons yesterday after scans confirmed he had broken his arm during Sunday’s 52-18 win against Salford.

Maguire said he is likely to be ruled out for 10 weeks and, with the Australian only on a short-term deal ahead of a move to Widnes for 2012, that abruptly brings to an end his Warriors career after just four games.

But the coach says Cross will stay at the club until the last day and says he can not over-state the influence he will have on the squad as they eye a double silverware assault in the Challenge Cup and Super League.

Cross, who joined mid-season after being released by Leeds, played in the NRL with Canberra, Melbourne and Newcastle and represented New South Wales in State of Origin, before moving to Super League this year.

And Maguire said: “Ben will be gone for the rest of the year unfortunately.

“It’s a real shame for him, he was just getting back on his feet and he has proved a big addition in the short time he’s been here. Widnes are getting themselves one hell of a player next year. It’s a 10-week recovery which will take him up to the Grand Final itself – I suppose there could be a chance he could play in that game if we got there, but realistically he’s out for the season.

“When you’re talking about waiting for a bone to heal you can’t speed up the recovery process.

“But what I can say is Ben will still be here until the final day and I’ve no doubts he’ll play a big role off the field.

“He’s a very professional player and he’s great to have around the place.

“All the players have really taken to him and as I said, he’ll play his part off-the-field for sure.”

Cross’ absence opens up an opportunity for Paul Prescott and Gareth Hock to battle for a place in the Challenge Cup Final squad next week.

Prescott is likely to figure against Bradford this Friday after struggling with a hamstring problem, and will be looking to prove his fitness ahead of the Wembley showdown with Leeds on August 27.

Maguire often runs with a four-prop rotation during games and with Andy Coley, Jeff Lima and Lee Mossop seemingly nailed on for spots in the Cup Final team, the other position could come down to a straight choice between Prescott and Hock.

Another prop, Eamon O’Carroll, has been playing in the Under-20s since returning from a sternum injury, and could make his return to first-team action against Bradford at the DW Stadium this Friday.

TICKETS for Wigan’s Super League showdown against Warrington went on sale to season ticket holders today.

Wigan have received an allocation of 3,000 standing tickets for the game, costing £18 and £12 concessions. Any remaining go on general sale next Monday.

The game is scheduled for 3pm on Sunday, September 4 but is almost-certain to be brought forward, either to 1pm on the Sunday or Saturday evening, at the request of Sky Sports.