JACK Hughes last night vowed to snatch his chance to cement a regular place in the Wigan team.
The forward admits he is at the start of a “big season” in his career as he attempts to make the transition from fringe player to regular forward.
Hughes is battling for a second-row spot with Liam Farrell and John Bateman, two highly-rated forwards.
Having featured in the World Club Challenge, he has been left out for the Super League games against Wakefield and Castleford but has earned a fresh chance after Shaun Wane decided to rest Bateman.
He has been named in the 19-man squad to face Hull KR in a Sky Sports-televised DW encounter tomorrow night.
And the 22-year-old said: “I’ve just been waiting for my chance to get back in and rip in.
“There are three of us going for two spots, and Waney’s not been playing one on the bench and so one has to miss out. Hopefully I’ll have a solid game and make it hard for him to drop me.
“This is a big season for me. I’m not a young lad any more. It’s my fourth season in the first-team, and I need to be cementing a spot. I’m past being a young lad.” Hughes was given squad No.4 last season ahead of an expected move into the three-quarters. And though Iain Thornley nailed down the left centre role, Hughes still managed to make 28 appearances, many of them in his preferred second-row spot.
“Back row is the position I want to nail down. I don’t mind centre but back-row feels more natural, it’s where I’ve always played,” he said.
“It’s good that when a centre is down we can have back-rowers who can cover.”
Hughes watched from the sidelines as Wigan were stunned 36-31 by Castleford their second Super League loss of three games.
And the academy-product admits their tag as champions is providing other teams with extra motivation.
He added: “It doesn’t feel different to us, we don’t talk about defending trophies, but it does feel different in that it gives teams a bigger incentive to want to beat us.
“Cas made such a big fuss about playing the champions so we’re expecting a tough game against Hull KR. They signed some good players, they’ve got a big pack and we’ve got to match that first.”
WARRIORS SQUAD v HULL KR: Matty Bowen, Joe Burgess, Josh Charnley, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Jack Hughes, Jordan James, Sean O’Loughlin, Eddy Pettybourne, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, George Williams