SHAUN Wane has challenged his young players to train their way into his plans – admitting he will be more reluctant to give out debuts next year, writes Phil Wilkinson.
The Warriors boss agrees the changes to the Super League format should generate excitement and ratchet up the tension levels throughout the season.
But one drawback is likely to be a reduction in the number of players given chances, he believes.
“It’s going to be a good competition, really tight and exciting,” he said.
“But I think all coaches will be more reluctant to give debuts out.”
While lower-placed sides battle to avoid tumbling into the second of the ‘Super 8s’ groups, the better teams will jostle for spots, knowing only the top-four qualify for the Grand Final play-offs at the end of the campaign.
And with the likes of St Helens, Warrington, Leeds, Castleford, Huddersfield, Catalan and big-spending Hull FC and Salford all having realistic hopes of reaching the post-season mix, Wane says they can ill-afford any lapses or slips.
But one down-side of that scenario, from Wane’s point of view, is blooding young players will present more of a risk.
In the past, he has suffered surprise defeats when he has made sweeping changes.
And he admits it will be tougher for fringe players to get into the senior side in 2015.
But he has offered fresh incentives to his academy-products, urging them to follow the example set by Dan Sarginson last season and earn their chance by working hard on the training pitch and in the gym.
He said: “The fact is we need to win as many games as we can to finish top and then get into the play-offs. We can’t afford the slips we’ve had in the past, and I’ll question how many debuts I give out.
“I’ll put more of an emphasis on training, they need to do something to catch my eye.
“Doing the same as what everyone else is doing won’t be enough . You have to do something extra, something special, to catch my eye.
“That’s what Sarge did last season, I never expected him to get into the side as early as he did.
“But the way he trained demanded that he played in the World Club Challenge – he earned the right – and that’s what I need my other young players to do.”
Wigan are currently in the second week of pre-season training.
Their six Four Nations representatives return next week ahead of a warm-weather camp in Florida.