GREG Burke has been anointed as Sean O’Loughlin’s long-term successor after penning a new deal with Wigan.
The 20-year-old has agreed a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth season in the club’s favour.
And coach Shaun Wane reckons he can go on to take over at loose forward when skipper O’Loughlin, 30, decides to hang up the boots and take up a coaching role.
Many of Burke’s first-team displays have been at second-row, but Wane said: “He has the skills and a lot of the other attributes that Lockers has.
“He’s still only young and he’s learning, but he has a great chance of taking over at loose forward eventually.”
Burke was handed a surprise debut in the second round against Warrington and did so well, held down a position in the side for the next 10 matches.
Wane made a point of explaining he was only left out of the team last weekend to prevent him from being exposed to too much, too soon.
A former Wigan St Patrick’s junior, Burke has acquitted himself well to the demands of Super League and has impresed fans with his whole-hearted displays.
Wane said: “Greg is a very passionate Wigan lad, he’s easy to coach and hungry to learn. We’ve seen more of him this year than we expected because of injuries, and he’s shown he can do a job.
“We’ve got to look after him and keep him fresh, but I see him as an important member of our squad.”
Burke and Anthony Gelling may come into the reckoning for Friday’s visit of Salford if Wane decides to rest a player or two. He will name his 19-man squad today.
Meanwhile, Wigan have recalled Jack Murphy from his loan spell at the Reds.