Wane set to wield the axe

Shaun Wane
Shaun Wane

SHAUN Wane is threatening to wield the axe in wake of their Challenge Cup exit.

The coach has scrutinised footage of their 16-4 quarter-final loss to Castleford.

And he looks set to drop some of the under-performing players ahead of Friday night’s Super League showdown against the same opposition.

Wane said: “There will be changes made. All the players understand I need a certain level of performance and the fact is we got touched up, and because of that we’re out of the Cup.

“If you don’t perform you are going to be struggling to keep your place.

“I’m very honest and open with them, and they’re honest with themselves.

“They know what I expect – and Iv’e got to be fair to the players who aren’t in the team.”

With three games in 10 days – weekend fixtures against Castleford and Wakefield sandwich a rearranged, midweek match with Widnes – Wane may have been tempted to rotate his squad anyway.

But he has not shied away from the fact he will take decisive action following their lacklustre outing on Saturday.

Props Jordan James and Scott Taylor, centre Darrell Goulding, fit-again Josh Charnley and Greg Burke are champing at the bit after missing out on selection. Taylor continues to be linked to Hull FC.

Eddy Pettybourne is also nearing a return to action.

Recruited from the NRL in the off-season, he has not played since suffering a leg injury against St Helens on Good Friday.

Wane will wait to see whether injured players Sam Powell and Mike McIlorum are ruled out before deciding on who will miss out.

If both miss out, George Williams would appear most likely to move to hooker, with Ryan Hampshire or Sean O’Loughlin switching to stand-off. Wigan were out-muscled by Castleford’s pack last Saturday and, with up to three front-rowers ready to step in, Wane looks likely to make changes to his middle unit.

He said there was a defiant but disappointed mood at the training ground yesterday.

“It will take some getting over,” he said. “The players are the same as me and the staff – we didn’t want to lose that one.

“We all wanted to get back to Wembley. But we can either mope about it or learn from it.”