POWERFUL prop Tom Spencer is poised for a baptism of fire tomorrow evening.
Shaun Wane is ready to hand the 20-year-old a debut in Wigan’s Super League showdown with champions Leeds.
Spencer, another graduate of the club’s scholarship system, has impressed during pre-season and is ready to step into the spotlight for his senior bow.
Wane said: “Tom’s done really well during pre-season and has earned his chance through a lot of hard-work.
“He’s really knuckled down and he’s a very talented player.
“It’s a big night for him – and for everyone else.”
Spencer played his junior rugby league at Wigan St Pat’s – in the same side as Warriors’ Stefan Marsh, on loan at Widnes, and England RU golden-boy Owen Farrell.
Team-mates say he broke the club’s bench-press record during the pre-season, lifting an impressive 190kg.
He figured in two pre-season matches, against Huddersfield and Leigh, and was in the provisional 19-man squad for the opener last weekend.
He has been handed his chance after Liam Farrell was hit with a one-match suspension. George Carmont is also ruled out of tomorrow’s Sky-televised encounter.
He broke his thumb last week and faces a month on the sidelines – as the Evening Post exclusively revealed on Wednesday.
Academy-product Jack Hughes, who figured twice for the first-team last season, may fill the centre role after being named in Wane’s squad ahead of Kiwi recruit Anthony Gelling.
Hughes is predominantly a second-rower but played at centre during the pre-season matches and stood out in his new role.
He has previously admitted he would be keen to play at centre if it helped him crack into the team.
French official Thierry Alibert will take charge of tomorrow’s game, kick-off 5.45pm.
Warriors’ Under-20s game against Leeds tomorrow is off because of a frozen pitch.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: S Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Richards, Finch, Leuluai, Mossop, McIlorum, Lima, Hansen, Hock, O’Loughlin, Tuson, Flower, Lauaki, Spencer, Hughes, Mellor, Burke.