Hock back to tackle Rhinos

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GARETH Hock looks set to blast back into the side for tomorrow’s showdown against Leeds.

The blockbusting forward missed the opening game of the play-offs after failing a late fitness test on a leg injury.

And he watched on from the stand as the Warriors swept aside Catalan in clinical fashion in a 46-6 destruction.

Coach Shaun Wane says Hock is now fit and available – but stopped short of promising him a return to his regular left-flank second-row spot.

He said: “I might make some changes.

“Gaz is fit now, he’s a quality player who was in the Super League DreamTeam, and to be honest he was touch and go for the Catalan game but we didn’t want to risk him.

“He’s fine now, he’s got a chance of being in. But I thought Jack Hughes was outstanding in his place, so I’m in a very comfortable position.”

Wane named his 19-man squad yesterday after only Chris Tuson, Paul Prescott [both injured] and Michael McIlorum [suspended] were definitely unavailable.

He will need to cut two players before Friday’s semi-final encounter, and his headache is not limited to deciding who to leave out – he also has some positions to finalise as well.

Sean O’Loughlin started at hooker against Catalan in place of the banned McIlorum, a move which handed more game-time to the in-form Liam Farrell and created a more physical pack in the early stages until Matty Smith’s introduction from the bench.

“It’s a case of horses for courses, which way we go,” said Wane. “It’s all about who will win me the game.”

Meanwhile, Sam Tomkins reckons the Man of Steel race is too close to call.

The full-back controversially missed out on the coveted award last year to Rangi Chase – the Castleford stand-off even admitted he thought Tomkins would have walked away with the prize.

This year, Tomkins is on a three-man short-list with Warrington’s Ben Westwood and St Helens’ James Roby and he told Wigan TV: “James Roby has been outstanding all year, as has Benny, so it’s pretty much open.

“It’d be nice to win it, a massive honour, but it wouldn’t be a massive disappointment either if I didn’t.”

This is the third time in a row Tomkins has been short-listed for the prize, which will be announced next Monday.