Tomkins a back-up option for hooker role

Joel Tomkins
Joel Tomkins

Joel Tomkins has emerged as a surprise back-up option for the vital hooker role this Friday.

The 30-year-old is on stand-by to fill the key position against Salford, Shaun Wane has revealed.

His options at halfback and hooker have been narrowed by a glut of injuries, as well as a suspension to Micky McIlorum and Sean O’Loughlin’s England call-up.

George Williams (knee), Thomas Leuluai (jaw) and Jake Shorrocks (knee) are all out of the frame.

French full-back Morgan Escare can play at halfback, but was last night waiting for scan results on a knee injury suffered in Saturday’s 54-4 mauling at Castleford.

If he is fit, Wane says Escare will “more than likely” play in the halves – possibly alongside Nick Gregson, which would allow Sam Powell to continue at hooker.

But if Escare is ruled out, then Powell will need to operate in the halves, leaving Wane short of options for the No.9 spot.

“Joel could play there if we’re stuck,” said Wane. “Morgan, if he’s okay, he can play in the halves.”

The dummy-half role is alien to Tomkins, though he is used to the defensive duties in the middle.

Young Josh Ganson, who debuted at Castleford, will provide hooker cover from the bench and fit-again Lewis Tierney is set for a return to the side at full-back.

Hooker McIlorum, who is only two games back from a 14-month injury lay-off, will definitely not play on Friday after receiving a one-match ban. He submitted an early-guilty plea to a grade B offence of standing on opponent Jake Webster.

“It’s going to be a makeshift team, there’s no point convincing anyone any different,” said Wane.

“We’ll be low on numbers but we’re Wigan, and when our backs are against the wall, hopefully we will come up with a performance.”

Williams has also had a scan on a knee injury which ruled him out of England’s Test against Samoa. Wane said he had “no chance” of facing Salford.

Welsh prop Ben Flower underwent an operation on his ruptured Achilles yesterday.

“It’s a long one, I’m gutted for him – he’s been our best front-rower,” said Wane.

As one began his spell on the sidelines, another took a big step towards his return after winger Dom Manfredi ran for the first time since suffering a horrible knee injury last year.

“Felt good to be back running on the field after a long eight months,” tweeted Manfredi, due back in action this autumn.