SHAUN Wane has a message for the talented youngsters who have kept Wigan’s season on track: Your time will come.
The Warriors coach has had to dig deep into his Academy set-up this season, with injuries dogging the cherry-and-whites all year.
Despite the likes of Pat Richards, Stuart Fielden, Thomas Leuluai and others being on the long-term sick list, Wigan have continued to blaze a trail at the top of Super League thanks to the contributions of several youngsters who Wane believes are the future of the club.
And despite signalling his intention to field as strong a 17 as possible at Warrington this weekend for the top-of-the-table clash, Wane has paid tribute to those who have come in and not let the side down.
“You have to have a good squad system,” admitted Wane.
“I’ve used 33 players this year, and it wouldn’t bother me picking all eight young players again.
“John Winder, our head of youth, deserves a lot of praise for that as do all the other youth coaches.
“We’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries – but that’s sport, and you can’t pick your best team all the time.
“I don’t think us as a club shout from the roof-top like other clubs about the quality from within our youth set-up – and perhaps we need to start doing that.
“We get a real good quality and when it comes through to us, we just put on the finishing touches.”
Wigan’s latest victory, the 48-10 hammering of Hull last weekend, saw another product of the club’s youth system, Sam Powell [right], make an impressive debut.
And Wane – who himself came through the ranks at Wigan almost three decades ago – acknowledges the future of the club is in very safe hands.
“Sam was outstanding, a real quality player, and there are many more behind him,” Wane added.
“Jack Hughes, in the centre, was also outstanding, coming in for Darrell (Goulding) at late notice.
“The main thing for me is real quality, and if I need to go overseas for a player, I’d want him to be better than we have already got – unless he’s a real shot in the dark that has come from nowhere.
“That is the only way I’d do it – otherwise I’d stay within the system looking for players like Sam Tomkins and Paul Prescott and people like that.
“That’s the sort of player I want. That is who this club belongs to – our local kids.”
When asked whether a team full of Academy products was his eventual goal, he admitted: “I’m not obsessed with it, although it would be nice.”