SHAUN Wane is poised to plunge youngster Rhodri Lloyd into the Headingley cauldron on Friday night after Gareth Hock and Chris Tuson were slapped with bans.
Hock received a two-match suspension and a £300 fine, while Tuson was given a one-match ban and £300 fine for their roles in the brawl during Sunday’s Magic encounter with St Helens.
St Helens’ Shaun Magennis was hit with a three-game ban for blindsiding Tuson with a punch described by Wane as “unforgivable”.
With Lee Mossop accepting a one-game suspension earlier in the day, and injured Harrison Hansen (broken jaw) joining Paul Prescott, Ben Flower and long-term absentee Stuart Fielden on the sidelines, it leaves Wane with a heavily depleted pack for the contest with champions Leeds.
Last night he admitted he may hand a debut to Welsh forward Lloyd in front of the Sky Sports cameras, though he stressed that he has other options to consider, including whether to thrust recent recruit Iain Thornley into the frame, or move winger Anthony Gelling into the pack.
Wane seems certain to start the match with Liam Farrell and Jack Hughes in the second-row, but favours carrying at least one other back-rower on the bench.
Hooker Logan Tomkins and props Tom Spencer and Dom Crosby are also in the mix to feature, possibly out of position.
But Wane refused to curse his bad luck, and he didn’t play down Wigan’s chances of extending their 10-match winning streak, instead insisting they will thrive “under the pump”.
He said: “I’m excited that there’s more pressure on us. It gives my young players a chance to stand up.
“It’ll give me an idea about where Crosby, Spencer and Logan are at.
“We may give Rhodri a go – he’s technically good and he’ll be a player for us.
“This has probably come a bit earlier than expected, with the suspensions, and I have other options to look at.
“We literally tried dozens of different scenarios and combinations in training, we’ll take another look at Iain Thornley, Anthony Gelling in there – it’s a decision we have to make.
“But I can assure you, whatever the team, we’ll be having a go, we’ll be competitive, and Leeds will know they’ve been in the game.
“We were under the pump at St Helens on Good Friday and we won.”
Having reviewed the brawl before going into the RFL disciplinary with his two forwards, Wane was critical of the role St Helens forward Magennis played in striking Tuson when he was turned away.
In addition to his three-game ban, he was fined £300.
“If he’d done that for me, he wouldn’t need to worry about an RFL ban,” said Wane, branding it “unforgivable.”
Hock will also miss the Warriors’ trip to Montpellier the following week to play third-placed Catalan Dragons but will be free to make his England comeback, if selected, against the Exiles at Langtree Park on Saturday, June 16.
All three players, who were shown red cards by referee Ben Thaler after a second-half scrum erupted in a flare-up, appeared in front of a Rugby Football League disciplinary panel in Leeds. Mossop’s involvement went unpunished at the time.
“I’ve looked at it, and I think the ref over-reacted,” added Wane. “I’ve seen similar things when it’s been a sin-bin or on report, and without a doubt it killed the game. But he chose to do that and he’s a very good ref Ben Thaler, my mind hasn’t changed about that.”
Hansen, meanwhile, is facing about six weeks on the sidelines though a clearer time-frame will only be known next week when the swelling has gone down.
“He may need it plating, but we’ll only know in a few days,” added Wane, who will confirm his 19-man squad for Friday’s game later today.