Drew Darbyshire profiles some of the young-guns aiming to impress Shaun Wane this season...
Amateur club: Blackbrook Royals
Ganson has had a surreal 2016 campaign, signing a professional deal with the first-team as well as captaining England Academy in Australia.
The hard-hitting hooker, who is son of former Super League referee Steve Ganson, played a key role in helping the Warriors Under-19s reach the Grand Final last season.
Ganson has replaced Luke Waterworth in the first-team hooker department, with the latter permanently moving to Swinton Lions in the off-season after making his Warriors debut in 2016.
He said: “It was a dream I always wanted to achieve when I moved to Wigan from St Helens in the Academy.
“I was lucky enough to achieve a first-team contract, with one year still left for me to play in the U19s, so it has been a good year.
“Captaining England was fantastic. I was lucky enough to be given the chance by the coach Andy Kelly when he spoke to me and said that he wanted me to do it.
“Just to play in an England team over in Australia is good enough but to get the captaincy, I was made up and very proud.”
Amateur club: Wigan St Patricks
Marshall spent the 2016 season with Championship club Swinton Lions and impressed throughout the campaign, scoring 20 tries in 22 appearances for John Duffy’s side.
The pacey winger failed to earn a professional deal with the Warriors at the end of his three years with the Under 19s, but he didn’t give up.
He stuck in with the Wigan’s reserve team in 2016 as well as playing for Swinton, scoring six tries in seven games, as well as training to become an accountant.
“I enjoyed my time at Swinton last year,” Marshall said. “I played the majority of games with them and I hope to replicate that this year with Wigan, and I am going try and get into the side or at least make my first-team debut, and see if I can kick on from there and see where the year takes me.
“The Championship improved me as a player, because it is very physical and has given me a lot of experience.”
Amateur club: Seaton Rangers
Barnes impressed massively in his first season with the U19s after being promoted from the Scholarship.
The front-rower soon cemented a regular spot in Matty Peet’s side, making 15 appearances and even went on tour to Australia with England Academy, being one of the youngest players there.
His solid displays earned him a first-team deal this season and he will wear the number 38 shirt this term for the Cherry and Whites.
“Getting a first-team deal was a big shock to me because I didn’t expect it to come this soon,” said the Cumbrian.
“It is a bit surreal for me really because I was watching them on television not too long ago, and now I am training with them.
“Hopefully I may get a chance at making my debut for Wigan this year, but I assume I will be with the Under 19s quite a lot.
“It was a good experience to play for England Academy over in Australia. It was tough.”
Position: Centre /winger
Amateur club: Bold Miners
Forysth re-signed for the Warriors from Bath RU in the off-season and he is highly rated at Wigan.
The centre or winger spent time in Wigan’s Under 19s set-up before moving down south, and he played for Bath United – the club’s reserve grade – in 2016.
Forysth has revealed he is looking to bring some rugby union qualities back in to rugby league.
He said: “There is a lot kicking in rugby union so I now feel a lot more comfortable in kicking, and the different mindset has given me a different perspective of rugby as a whole.
“I know it is a different sport but you can definitely cross things over into rugby league.
“At Bath, we had a real rugby league mentality there because of people like Mike Ford, George Ford and Kyle Eastmond, so it wasn’t too different to what I was used to in league really. It will be good to hopefully play alongside some of the lads I played with in the Scholarship and Under 19s because some of them are my best mates.”
Amateur Club: Stanley Rangers
Field had a rollercoaster season in 2016 but ended it on a massive high.
He was unable to play in some of the friendlies last year due to injury, and he broke his jaw while playing for the Under 19s, which was scheduled to rule him out of the England Academy tour.
The Yorkshireman made a remarkable recovery and was able to go on the trip, although more bad luck struck as he dislocated his arm while in Australia.
Once again, Field battled on and his positive attitude saw him perform well for the Academy and he earned a professional contract with Wigan.
“I didn’t expect to be signing anything but, when I was offered the first-team deal, it was a proud achievement in my life,” Field said.
“I didn’t even think I would manage to get on the England Academy tour nevermind get a first-team contract with Wigan.”
Amateur club: Wigan St Judes
Macauley Davies made his debut in Wigan’s 22-18 home win over Wakefield Trinity back in July after excelling in the Under 19s.
The 6ft 2in second-rower has made 35 appearances within the last two seasons for the Under 19s, while scoring 14 tries.
Davies has represented England Academy and has joined Workington on a season-long loan to gain experience.
“The adrenaline was just overpowering when I made my debut last year,” said Davies.
“We won the game by two points in the last minute and the reaction from the fans after the game was just unbelievable as I tried to take it all in.”
Amateur club: Wigan St Patricks
Tom Davies only joined the Under 19s late on compared to other players, but stood out in Matty Peet’s side in 2016, mainly owing to his outstanding work-rate.
The rapid winger has made 31 appearances for the U19s within the last two seasons, and has crossed the whitewash 13 times.
“It was a big shock to my family,” said Davies.
“I went downstairs and told my mum and dad after my agent rang me telling me the news, and it was a new level of excitement for the household. We were all jumping for joy! They have followed me throughout my career, took me to training and prepared meals for me, so they played a big part in getting me to where I am now.
“Ever since I signed for the Under 19s side, my aim has been to earn a first-team deal, and now I have done it . My next goal is to try and make my mark in the team now.”
Position: Loose Forward
Amateur club: Shevington Sharks
Shelford made his first-team debut alongside Macauley Davies in 2016 after man-of-the-match displays in the Under 19s.
The ex-England Academy captain played 53 times for the Under 19s and scored 12 tries.
Shelford has also joined Workington on a season-long loan.
“To make my debut was a massive achievement, so I was really proud about getting on to the field,” said Shelford, son of the late ex-Wigan prop Adrian.
“My debut was made even more special because of the win and the circumstances.
“I have had a chat with Waney [Shaun Wane] in pre-season and he has given me feedback about what I could improve on and where he thinks I am at.”
Amateur Club: Folly Lane
Wells was only 18 years old and still in college when he made his first-team debut against Wakefield Trinity in April.
The utility-forward was named Under 16s Player of the Year in 2014, and quickly became one of rugby league’s most exciting prospects while playing in the Under 19s.
He has played 26 games for the Under 19s in the last two terms, scoring five tries, and he also featured for the reserves in 2016.
He said: “Some of the lads in their first year in the first team have jobs to do like getting the kit, pads and balls out and stuff like that before every session.
“We are just showing the really new lads the ropes at the moment in terms of what they need to do – because we had to do it!
“Going on tour with England Academy was a great experience for me.
“When you play alongside different players from different clubs – and are with them every day for four weeks – then they quickly become your friends for life.”