Flower: Battle is on for Warriors’ top prop tag

Ben Flower
Ben Flower

Ben Flower hopes to use the first game of the season to stake an early claim for a starting spot - as he chases the unofficial tag as Wigan’s best prop.

Many would expect the Welshman to have a mortgage on one of the two places after his strong service over the years.

I know there are two starting spots, but you want to be the stand-out prop. If you can be that, the other boys will follow you and try and get that off you.

Ben Flower

But with Taulima Tautai, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, fit-again Tony Clubb and Ryan Sutton - who only missed one game last season - also in the mix, he knows competition for places has been dialled up.

“We’re all going to have to be on our toes, 100 per cent,” said Flower. “You have one bad game, and Waney is not afraid to drop you to the bench. If you’re on the bench and you don’t perform, he’ll leave you out. It’s that simple.

“But that’s what you want as a player.”

Flower admits the intensifying competition among the props is driving him to try and reach career-best form, as he seeks recognition as Wigan’s No.1 prop.

“We’re all going to be competing for that No.1 spot,” said Flower. “I know there are two starting spots, but you want to be the stand-out prop.

“If you can be that, the other boys will follow you and try and get that off you. That’s the mindset we have.

“You want to be the best prop in the team and all the boys will be thinking like that, they want to be stand-out. That’s the way we’re bred to be like.”

Wane often has two props on the bench, and there is no obvious candidate to miss out of Saturday’s opener at Salford. Clubb is short of match-fitness and Sutton is the youngest.

“It’s simple - whoever trains and plays the best, plays,” said Wane. “Having Clubby back, and Taulima fit, they have been two big players for us.

“And in the friendlies, I thought Sutty and Frank-Paul were outstanding in spells, so I’m very happy with the middles.”

Wane, of course, has the option of placing three props on the bench. But with Jake Shorrocks likely to provide cover and respite for the halfbacks and hookers, and Willie Isa and Joel Tomkins also in the mix, he will have some tough calls to make ahead of their opening game.