Sam Tomkins is like a “new man” as he closes in on a long-awaited return.
The 28-year-old needed an operation to remove the surgical plates which were causing him discomfort.
And Shaun Wane says the procedure has been a success, and the former Man of Steel can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Since having the plates out, he’s looking miles better,” said Wane.
“He’s like a new man, his personality has changed, he’s happier.
“He’s now running on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) and he’s miles, miles better.”
Tomkins has made 16 appearances for Wigan since returning from New Zealand Warriors ahead of the 2016 campaign as the club’s marquee player.
His comeback campaign was postponed by a knee operation, and then cut short by a broken foot which ruled him out of Wigan’s Grand Final charge.
Wigan had pencilled in a June return for Tomkins after revealing he would need the plates removing, though Wane is cautiously hopeful they can “shave some time off” the recovery.
Oliver Gildart, Tony Clubb, John Bateman, Thomas Leuluai, Jake Shorrocks and Dom Manfredi are also sidelined.
Not long ago, fans were questioning how and where Tomkins would fit into the Wigan side following Morgan Escare’s sparking form at full-back.
But Wane must be wishing he had the academy-product fit as he juggles with a halfback dilemma.
Sam Powell is set to switch to halfback to cover for Thomas Leuluai, with Micky McIlorum starting at hooker and Josh Ganson coming onto the bench for his debut.
“Sam has just started hitting his straps at dummy-half, but with Tommy out and Jake Shorrocks out for the season, it’s a tough one at the minute,” said Wane.
Ganson - son of ex-referee Steve - has been named in the provisional 19-man squad. Anthony Gelling and Joel Tomkins return from suspension and injury respectively. Kick-off at the Jungle on Saturday is 7pm and the game is not being televised.
Strength and conditioning coach Paul Johnson, a former Wigan and Great Britain player, has extended his contract until the end of 2020.
“Paul was a great player and has become a key member of our backroom team,” said rugby director Kris Radlinski, a former team-mate.
Dave Banks has returned to the club as head of sports science and analysis to replace Mark Quinn, who has moved into a career in full-time education.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Burgess, Davies, Escaré, Farrell, Flower, Ganson, Gelling, Gregson, Isa, Marshall, Mcilorum, Navarrete, Nuuausala, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sutton, Tautai, Tomkins, Williams.
Castleford’s 19-man squad: Chase, Cook, Eden, Gale, Hardaker, Holmes, Massey, McShane. McMeeken, Millington, Minikin, Milner, Monaghan, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Springer, Shenton, Webster.