YOUNG-GUN Sam Powell is aiming to lay down a first-team marker when he runs out at Hull KR on Sunday.
The promising half-back has been included in a 20-man squad for the friendly encounter at Craven Park.
Several seasoned pros have been drafted into the panel after a young side lost 30-6 against Leigh last Sunday.
But Shaun Wane has decided to hold Matty Smith and Blake Green back, giving academy-product Powell a chance to impress. He made a try-scoring Super League debut for his hometown club last season and, while accepting he starts as cover for Smith and Green, he wants to convince Wane he is ready for the big-time if either of those players suffer an injury, suspension or dip in form.
And he believes this Sunday’s friendly is the perfect stage for him to display his credentials.
“I cant’ wait, I’m ready to go,” said Powell.
“We’ve been training for three or four months now so I just want to play.”
Powell impressed on his Wigan debut in August, crowning a thumping 48-10 win against Hull FC with a try in front of nearly 18,000 fans.
“I thought I’d have to wait until this year to get my debut, but it came earlier than I expected,” he said.
“It gives you a bit more confidence, having played a match at that level. I want to push on and hopefully play a few games this year.
“I get on really well with Matty and Blake, I’m learning a lot off them, and I’m just sitting behind them ready to step in if I get my chance.” Wane clearly rates the 20-year-old, having drafted him into his leadership group this year alongside a clutch of hardened stars including Sean O’Loughlin, Pat Richards and Sam Tomkins.
Powell will partner rookie stand-off Ryan Hampshire at halfback against Hull KR, but part of the starting line-up is comprised of more familiar faces.
Jack Hughes, Paul Prescott, Logan Tomkins, Anthony Gelling and Chris Tuson all start, with Gil Dudson and ex-Robins prop Scott Taylor on a seven-man bench. Wigan travel to Salford the following Thursday and close their pre-season programme with a friendly against Warrington on Saturday, January 26, six days before their opening Super League match.
Wigan’s squad: Jack Murphy; Iain Thornley, Jack Hughes, Rhodri Lloyd, Dominic Manfredi; Ryan Hampshire, Sam Powell; Paul Prescott, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby, Anthony Gelling, Chris Tuson. Subs: Greg Burke, Liam Carberry, Tom Spencer, Rob Lever, James Greenwood, Joe Burgess, Scott Taylor, Gil Dudson.