SHAUN Wane has only one wish as many of his players prepare for international duty – that they emerge without any serious injuries.
A staggering 22 of last season’s double-winning squad are in action over the next few days.
While some Super League clubs have already reported back for pre-season, Wigan’s preparations for 2014 have been seriously disrupted by the World Cup which begins next week – and he will be keeping his fingers crossed they avoid serious injury.
Wane, who guided Wigan to Challenge Cup and Grand Final glory this season, said: “I’m pleased for all of them.
“I’m glad they’ve been picked, because they’re form players and we’ve got a couple lads who were unlucky to miss out.
“From a selfish point, I want them to come through unscathed. We’ve already looked at how we’re going to manage them early next year, so it is a disruption for our plans – but it’s a nice disruption to have.”
Half of the 22 internationals will be representing England or the Knights in a double-header at Salford tomorrow.
Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Mike McIlorum, Lee Mossop and Liam Farrell will face Italy in a friendly – Sean O’Loughlin has been rested. And Iain Thornley, Sam Powell, Logan Tomkins, Jack Hughes, Scott Taylor and Dom Crosby will be in Knights action against a Samoan side which could feature Harrison Hansen.
Joe Burgess, Ryan Hampshire, Lewis Tierney and George Williams – who all debuted for Wigan in 2013 – are among seven of the club’s teens playing for England academy against Wales tonight.
And though Mossop and full-back Tomkins are departing for the NRL, as well as Ireland’s World Cup ace Pat Richards, new recruit Eddy Pettybourne will represent the USA.
Anthony Gelling (Cook Islands) and Wales trio Rhodri Lloyd, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower are also poised for action in the World Cup, which is launched a week tomorrow at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
And Wane is the only key member of Wigan’s coaching staff not involved in the tournament.
Paul Deacon, Mark Bitcon (England), Iestyn Harris, Mick Turner and Mick Farrell (Wales) all have roles.
Harris, Wigan’s assistant coach, was yesterday linked with a vacant coaching role at Cardiff Blues RU.
Harris is on a four-man short-list for the job of backs coach as the Arms Park outfit begin a coaching clear-out , according to Welsh reports.