SHAUN Wane has been presented with a front-row selection headache following the return to action of Stuart Fielden and Gil Dudson.
Paul Prescott’s season-ending knee injury has been offset by the return of two front-rowers who both had impressive stints in Friday’s 26-18 defeat by St Helens.
Fielden’s return was particularly welcomed, as the former GB Test enforcer had not played Super League in 18 months. And with Epa Lauaki – dropped to the Under-20s last weekend – back in the mix, Wane says he has a tough choice selecting his props for Friday’s visit of Catalan in the opening round of the play-offs.
He said: “I thought Stu and Gil both did well. For Stu to come back and play like that, after so long out, was a fantastic effort and Epa went well for the 20s on Saturday so it’s going to be a welcomed headache.
“I’ve got the competition for front-row spots that I like, and that can only be a good thing going into such crucial games.”
Wigan are just two games away from a Grand Final appearance and face Catalan at home in their first hurdle this Friday in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
The winners will progress directly to the semi-finals two weeks later, with the losers afforded a second-bite.
Wane said: “The preparations have already started, I’ve spent all day today watching footage of Catalan. They’re a quality team and this Friday will be a tough game – for both of us.”
Wane, meanwhile, will discover today whether hooker Mike McIlorum faces further punishment for the challenge which saw him red-carded against St Helens.
If the RFL match review panel cite McIlorum, the Warriors will defend the hooker and hope the judiciary accept his sending off as sufficient.
REPORTS linking Wigan with a move for ex-Bradford prop Craig Kopczak are wide of the mark, the Evening Post understands. Kopczak quit Odsal last week.
FANS are reminded that junior tickets for all play-off matches are available in advance for £5. Super League clubs are also running a five-for-four promotion to try and boost crowds during the battle for Grand Final places.
SAM Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin will today be named in the Super League Dream Team for the third consecutive season.
IAIN Thornley bagged two tries as Wigan’s Under-20s thumped their Hull FC counterparts 50-0 in the opening round of the play-offs. Scott Leatherbarrow (2), Jack Murphy, Anthony Gelling, Sam Powell, Matt Russell and Rhodri Lloyd also crossed.
FORMER Warriors Under-20s coach Darren Fletcher has switched codes, becoming an RFU performance analyst for the North of England Under-18s and 20s.