WIGAN are hopeful of tying up a move for Kiwi centre Anthony Gelling within the next two weeks.
The club waited until they were confident the 21-year-old would be granted a work permit before yesterday allowing Stefan Marsh to join Widnes on a season-long loan.
Marsh’s departure – so soon after Joel Tomkins’ switch to Saracens – would leave just George Carmont and Darrell Goulding as the only recognised centres in the senior squad.
But the ranks will be bolstered by the arrival of Gelling and coaches hope he lands before the first-team head to Florida for a pre-season training camp on December 12.
The Evening Post revealed earlier this month that he was on Shaun Wane’s radar.
The new head coach sees the 6ft 5in powerhouse as a player he can mould into a formidable centre having been impressed with the Kiwi’s performances for Auckland Vulcans – a feeder club of NRL side the New Zealand Warriors – last season.
Gelling has a colourful past, having been sacked by Sydney Roosters for defecating in a hotel. But he has repaired his reputation with the Vulcans, playing at either second row or centre.
At 21, Wigan officials are hoping they have unearthed a real gem who will provide competition for places in the three-quarters.
His pending arrival would have knocked Marsh further down the pecking order, and rather than let his career stall in the Under-20s, Wane decided to let him join Super Legue newcomers Widnes in the hope more exposure to first-team action will accelerate his development.
Academy-product Marsh – who made seven first-team appearances for Wigan last year – had a loan stint with Vikings last year when they were in the Championship.
Wane said: “This is a good opportunity for Stefan to gain some valuable first team experience in the best competition.
“He will benefit greatly from playing regularly in Super League rather than switching when opportunities occur between first team rugby and the Under 20’s.
“Stefan is a young player with great potential and this loan works well for both Wigan and the Widnes Vikings.”
Marsh will be coached at Widnes by Central Park legend Denis Betts.
He said: “Stefan is an outstanding prospect. He has good vision, an outstanding turn of pace and he can certainly handle himself in the defensive department.
“He offers us plenty of options.”
WIGAN have 14 young-guns in the England academy and youth squads for 2012.
Liam Farrell’s brother Connor and Jason Robinson’s son Lewis Tierney join George Williams, Ryan Hampshire and Ryan Sutton in the academy squad.
Bradley Lawerence, David Thompson, Gabriel Fell, Jake Shorrocks, Joseph Bretherton, Kyle Dempsey, Luke Waterworth, Nick Gregson and Oliver Gildart are in the youth squad.