Flower: We’re getting competition back

Ben Flower felt he was 'guaranteed' a spot last year
Ben Flower felt he was 'guaranteed' a spot last year

Two props have left, one has arrived – but Ben Flower says the competition for prop places will be fiercer in 2017.

The Welshman admits he could afford to take his spot for granted last season.

And he believes the scrap for places is already driving up standards in training.

He said: “When you have competition, it makes you step up your game a bit. Last season, regardless, I was guaranteed a spot because we had so many injuries.

“This year we have too many props to play every week, so it’s down to who’s playing best, and that’s what gives us our drive and step up our game. I’m glad we’re getting the competition back.”

On the surface, it would appear Wigan’s front-row has been weakened in the off-season.

Two of last year’s props – Lee Mossop and Grand Finalist Dom Crosby – have moved on to Super League rivals Salford and Warrington respectively. Frenchman Romain Navarrete is the solitary newcomer in the pack.

But Tony Clubb and Joel Tomkins, who can operate in the middle or at prop, were injured for large spells last year.

Both are expected to be fit for the start of the new campaign in February.

And with a full complement of back-rowers, it means Willie Isa is set to push for a role in the middle.

Wane also has Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Taulima Tautai and academy-product Joe Bretherton – who figured 13 times last season – in the frame. Navarrete has been signed as a ‘project’ player by Wane.

Flower added: “It seems he’s got a good head on his shoulders and wants to progress, and he’s at the best club to do that.”

Warriors are away on a ‘road trip’ until tomorrow night, which includes different training activities as well as ‘life experiences’.

They went mountain-biking in Wales yesterday. Some fans questioned their decision to train with Sale Sharks on Thursday, just days after Castleford had launched legal action against them for the controversial signing of Denny Solomona.

Warriors rugby manager Kris Radlinski wrote on his blog: “I know some fans will question us going to Sale after recent events but every minute of this road trip has been meticulously planned for several months.

“We asked former assistant coach Paul Deacon if we could use Sale’s facility as it allowed us to break the journey up after an intense morning and before the boys set off to Wales.

“Hopefully fans will see over the next few days that this is just one small element of a tough, long and varied itinerary of sessions and activities for the boys.”