Wane to rest cup stars

Warriors players celebrate at Wembley

Warriors players celebrate at Wembley

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SHAUN Wane plans to rest many of his Challenge Cup heroes in Friday’s rematch against Hull FC.

The coach will finalise his 19-man squad today and admits it is unlikely to feature several of the victorious Wembley players.

Sean O’Loughlin and Darrell Goulding are almost certainly ruled out through injury, and Wane reckons many more will feel the benefit of a week off following the emotionally taxing triumph.

Wane, who oversaw training yesterday morning, said: “There’ll be quite a few not playing. I’ve not decided on my side yet, but it’ll do a few good to have a rest.

“It’s been an emotional weekend, winning the Challenge Cup has taken a lot out of them, and on top of that there are a few carrying injuries.”

Two years ago, Wigan were hammered 39-12 by Warrington just days after their Wembley success.

Captain O’Loughlin has still not fully recovered from a calf problem – he battled through the pain barrier last Saturday, but is wanted fully-fit for the play-offs.

And centre Goulding will take a cognitive ‘head’ test this week which is likely to rule him out, following the nasty collision which saw him leave the Final on a stretcher.

On the plus side, Wane has a relatively healthy squad.

And given he wants his strongest team available going into the play-offs, this game will provide a great chance for the fringe players to stake their claims. Jack Hughes, Dom Crosby and Sam Powell travelled to Wembley but missed out on selection.

Wane also has the likes of Anthony Gelling, Epa Lauaki and Andy Powell champing at the bit – in addition to younger players such as Greg Burke and Ryan Hampshire.

“You have a squad for a reason,” said Wane. “There’s no point having so many players if you’re never going to play, and I’ll be putting out a team capable of getting the two points.

“I’m lucky to have a fit squad right now and I want competition for places. This will give a lot of them a great chance.”

Friday’s home match is the penultimate round of the regular season before the play-offs begin. Wigan, in third, will finish in the top-three as long as they draw against, or beat, Leeds in their last game in eight days time.

And they could finish second – handing them home advantage in the opening round of the play-offs – if they win both of their remaining games and Warrington lose to either St Helens or Catalan.