IAN Lenagan has confirmed for the first time that Welsh veteran Gareth Thomas was in their plans for 2012.
The 37-year-old was widely linked with the Warriors after Crusaders’ Super League future was abruptly cut short, until announcing his retirement earlier this month.
Wigan had never confirmed they were interested in bringing the ex-British Lions RU skipper on board – until now.
Explaining how Sam Tomkins’ wage increase has fit under their salary cap limit, chairman Lenagan said: “We already had money under the cap for Gareth Thomas. If he felt his body was good enough, we had the money there to let him play for Wigan for a year.”
Speculation is simmering that Thomas will play some role with Wigan next season as a league ambassador in Wales.
Lenagan has made no secret of his intentions to strengthen the club’s scouting system in Wales.
Thomas’ ex-Crusaders team-mates Gil Dudson and Ben Flower – who are both from Wales – will come on board for next season, though neither signing has been confirmed by the Warriors.
Coach Shaun Wane admitted he will continue to scour the NRL for an available centre to bolster their ranks following Joel Tomkins’ move to Saracens.
But no-one has grabbed his attention yet, and he is leaning towards throwing the right centre spot open for Darrell Goulding, Stefan Marsh and Josh Charnley to contest. Although Charnley has made a massive splash on the wing he has previously played at centre, and with promising Under-20s backs Ryan King and Matt Russell – and fit-again Amos Roberts – in the frame, a switch is a serious option.
Wane said: “I’m going to keep looking, I want a player at a decent age who I can develop, but no-one stands out at me at the moment. So there’ll be a lot of pressure on Stefan, Darrell and Josh from the word ‘go’.”
l WIGAN will travel to Hull KR for a pre-season friendly on January 15 (3pm KO). They face Salford nine days later.