Williams hopes treble boost will be right on time

George Williams
George Williams

George Williams admits the return of Wigan’s “three best players” will give them a timely boost ahead of the derby.

His England team-mates Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins and John Bateman were among the nine frontline players who missed Friday’s 20-18 loss at Leeds.

But O’Loughlin is free to return this week following a one-game ban, Tomkins is expected to recover from an ankle injury and Bateman is available after serving his high-profile club-imposed suspension for an off-field scrap.

“Sam, Lockers and John are probably our three best players, so it’s looking great for this week,” said Williams.

Many may argue the 21-year-old is rapidly-establishing himself as one of the best players in the Wigan side after a string of eye-catching displays.

His coach Shaun Wane described him as the best player on the pitch in Friday’s loss, which ended an eight-game winning run.

Wane had asked Williams to run at defences more regularly and the ploy paid off against the Rhinos, as he caused them headaches and scored the try which set up a nervy finish.

“I’m playing through the middle a little bit more, I’ve been told to carry the ball a bit, and I’m enjoying,” said the stand-off.

“I thought, when we closed the gap to two points, we would go on to pip it at the end.

“We’ve been in some tight games this year but for once it didn’t go our way.

“But the effort was there and that’s something we can take into next week.

“We had a young team but there are no excuses, Leeds were better than us, we were dumb with the ball at times.

“I was made up for the young lads who turned up, they’ve shown they’re good enough to play Super League.”

Kiwi recruit Frank-Paul Nuuausala made a low-key debut just four days after arriving from Australia, and admitted afterwards he was still struggling with jetlag and a lack of match-fitness, having not played since April.

“You can train as much as you want but it’s the playing that matters, hopefully I pick up my game-time,” he said.

“But it was good to get out there, the fans were awesome, especially the Wigan fans, and I can’t wait to play in the derby now.”

Taulima Tautai will find out today whether he will face punishment for a cannonball tackle on Adam Cuthbertson which went unpunished.

The RFL’s match review panel will scrutinise the game today and decide whether to charge any players.