Thornley out for another 8 months

Iain Thornley was looking forward to the Big One
Iain Thornley was looking forward to the Big One

IAIN Thorney has suffered a crushing setback - just one game after returning from a long injury lay-off.

The centre, 22, looks set to be ruled out for up to EIGHT MONTHS with a training ground knee injury.

Cruelly, last Friday’s loss at Widnes was Thornley’s first game in four months following a pectoral tear he suffered on Good Friday.

Wane said: “It’s a real shame for Iain. His form earlier this year before he tore his pec’ was outstanding, and I was really looking forward to getting him back.”

Thornley had the joint scanned yesterday and Wane discovered the severity of the problem last night as he returned from Leeds, where forward Liam Farrell was cleared by an RFL disciplinary panel to play in Friday’s Big One 5.

The 24-year-old was found not guilty of making a reckless high tackle on Widnes’ Joe Mellor, for which he was sinbinned.

Farrell will now be available to face the Rhinos in a crucial Super League clash on Friday. He will partner the returning Joel Tomkins in the back-row.

Matty Bowen and Ben Flower also come into the frame. John Bateman and Scott Taylor will be rested, Darrell Goulding (injury) and George Williams (groin) are injured and winger Joe Burgess will miss out, having played another game for the Under-19s last night as he gets back up to speed following an injury lay-off. The U19s came from behind to beat Salford 38-24.

Wigan remain in prime position to play in an expanded World Club Challenge next year. Details of a six-team competition will be revealed on Friday.

Michael Maguire’s Souths Sydney, Brisbane Broncos and the NRL champions will play three sides from Super League.

And despite reports elsewhere that the English teams will be decided by league positions, it is understood they have already been pre-determined to a large extend. The Grand Final winners will be involved, alongside two others from Wigan, Leeds, St Helens and Warrington.

Given the champions may come from that pool, it would mean only one outfit misses out. Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan and Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington have played instrumental roles in engineering this six-team tournament.

The other teams in the play-offs – Huddersfield, Castleford, Catalan and Widnes – are thought to be reluctant to take part unless they win at Old Trafford.

The games need to generate enough money to cover the expense of flying the NRL teams over.

If Souths win their Grand Final, another club would travel, with Sam Tomkins’ New Zealand Warriors thought to be interested.

Under the plan, the World Club Challenge would still be a one-off match between the NRL and Super League premiers, on Sunday February 22.

But a match would take place on the Friday and Saturday night in the build-up, between an English outfit and a touring club.

Though those two matches would be little more than exhibition games, the clubs are hoping bragging rights - and the attraction of seeing an NRL side in action - will lure in fans.

And if it’s a success, it could be the first move towards a Champions League-type tournament.

Meanwhile, England plan to react to Australia’s decision not to host a Lions tour in 2015 by arranging a Test series of their own, possibly against New Zealand or Samoa, with details expected this week.