George Williams is on course to be one of the best halfbacks in the world.
That’s the bold verdict of Hull FC coach Lee Radford, who has the job of trying to throw the shackles on the maverick England No.6 tonight.
Radford reckons Williams has the talent to go on and take his place among the game’s elite halfbacks such as Johnathan Thurston and Shaun Johnson. And he has instructed his players not to “clock off” around the 22-year-old when they meet at the DW Stadium – or risk being burned.
Radford enthused: “He’s a phenomenal individual player. There are a lot of whispers about his future but he’s arguably going to be one of, if he’s not already, the best players in his position in this country – if not going on and challenging the world.
“I think he’s a run-first half-back. That’s instinctive to him and with Tommy Leuluai doing their organising and taking a little bit of pressure of him, he looks better for that. What’s really important when you’re defending him is when you are two or three defenders away from him you need to make sure you don’t clock off because within a split-second he can be right within your space running through that hole that you’ve left.”
Williams is thought to have already spoken to Wigan about extending his contract, which runs out at the end of next year.
Shaun Wane will be in charge of the Warriors tonight, having had two days off at the start of the week for knee surgery. Nick Gregson and Joe Bretherton – who both debuted last year – are back in the frame to replace Sean O’Loughlin and Jack Wells, who were injured in Sunday’s 16-16 draw with Huddersfield.
Wigan are likely to have three recent debutants in their three-quarter line, but Radford points to their near-complete roster of props as a vital area.
“They’re always strong in the middle, they’re a physical team,” he said. “We’re going to have to match them at that and take our opportunities when they arrive.”