STUART Fielden is itching to get back into the Wigan team.
The prop is on course for a July return to action after having his season derailed by a knee injury which required surgery.
Fielden’s stunning form last season earned him a new two-year deal with the Super League champions.
But he played just one match – a 44-10 win against former club Bradford, in February – before being told he would need to go under the knife.
The 31-year-old said: “It’s coming along well, and hopefully I should be back in July.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there with the lads again.”
Fielden has been training with fellow prop Eamon O’Carroll, who is also on the comeback trail from a sternum operation.
And they were recently joined by Gareth Hock, who is desperate to get back up to speed as he approaches the end of his two-year doping ban.
Fielden played with Hock before the Test forward was banned for taking cocaine.
“It’s great to have him back,” said the England Four Nations prop. Gaz is enthusiastic, but he was always enthusiastic – he’s a good lad to have around.”
Fielden said it was difficult to predict whether Hock would be ready for an immediate return to the first-team fold once his ban expires on June 23. Warriors face Huddersfield the following day in the Big One 3.
“Not being out on the field with the lads, it’s hard for me to say,” he added.
Wigan take on Fielden’s former club Bradford this Sunday in a BBC-televised game.
The return of Paul Prescott from a back injury, possibly for Jack Hughes, is likely to be the only change to the squad that beat Harlequins 54-6 last Friday. Steve Ganson is referee and kick-off is 3.30pm.
In other news, former Wigan stand-off Trent Barrett has been handed a role on Ricky Stuart’s coaching staff for New South Wales’ State of Origin series against Queensland which starts next Wednesday.
And Salford’s director of rugby Steve Simms is expected to meet with ex-Warrior Adrian Lam during a trip to Australia to interview candidates for the vacant coaching role, though Wests Tigers assistant Peter Gentle and Souths No.2 Kurt Wrigley are favourites.
l Bulls ace ready for Cup battle – page 29