SHAUN Wane has challenge his fringe players to try and emulate Joe Burgess and Dan Sarginson as the new campaign inches closer.
Wigan begin their pre-season programme in less than two weeks, ahead of the Super League opener a month today.
And having been delighted with the way his players trained in the pre-Christmas run-in, Wane hopes they can try and emulate Burgess and Sarginson (pictured below), who muscled into his plans at this stage a year ago.
“Those two showed what can be done if you train and play well enough,” he said. “I’ve already reminded the players that if they impress me, there will be a chance in the team.
“Dan and Budgie are perfect examples of players who took their chances, and got what they deserved.”
At this stage last year, Wane admits they were probably not in his immediate first-team plans.
But they impressed during training and in the friendly games, with Burgess scoring 10 tries in three ‘trial’ games – against Leigh, St Helens and NZ Warriors – to nail down a spot in the World Club Challenge alongside Sarginson.
The left-edge pairing went on to feature in a Super League Grand Final and tour Down Under with the England squad.
And Wane said: “They demanded starting spots in the World Club Challenge with the way they played in the trials and the way they trained.
“And that’s why this period coming up is so important.”
A Wigan XIII will face London Skoars on January 16, two days before the Warriors travel to take on Leigh Centurions.
And those games are followed by friendlies against St Helens and Workington on successive weekends, ahead of their opening Super League match at Widnes on February 5.
Wigan go into the new campaign with a relatively settled squad.
But last year, Sarginson got the nod for the World Club Challenge ahead of double-winning centre Iain Thornley – illustrating Wane’s transparent and open selection policy.
At least six frontline props – including off-season recruits Larne Patrick, Lee Mossop and Taulima Tautai – are battling for four match-day roles.
And elsewhere, young full-back Ryan Hampshire and winger Dom Manfredi are the obvious fringe players who would appear to be closest to securing more first-team action – even accounting for the stars blocking their paths.