Williams welcomes time to work on goal-kicking

George Williams has a strike-rate of 50 per cent
George Williams has a strike-rate of 50 per cent

George Williams hopes some much-welcomed time on the training pitch can help improve Wigan’s goal-kicking.

The England halfback and winger Liam Marshall have shared the role in recent weeks.

They have had little time to practice, with Wigan playing five games in a 20-day window

They have struggled to make their mark – both have a success-rate of around 50 per cent – though they have had little time to practice their kicking, with Wigan playing five games in a 20-day window.

But following Thursday’s 50-34 loss at Leigh, they have had a long turnaround to prepare for Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final at Warrington, giving them both plenty of time to work on their new responsibility.

Williams said: “It’s been good to have a longer space between the games.

“We’ve had some sore bodies in recent weeks, it’s been 10 or 20 minutes (practice) sometimes.

“We wanted to get the practice in but we’ve not had much space between games, so we couldn’t be kicking for an hour or two a day!

“We’ll be putting in the practice and putting our hand up for it.”

Full-back Morgan Escare started as Wigan’s first-choice kicker – he had a strike rate of 60 per cent, below the competition average – before being ruled out for the year with a knee injury.

Other options, fringe players Jake Shorrocks – arguably the squad’s best marksman – and Nick Gregson, are also out long-term.

Young half Josh Woods and Sam Powell have each kicked three from four in Super League and, while the latter is back in the side, he is spelled with hooker Micky McIlorum and isn’t on the pitch long enough.

Williams made a solid start to the goal-kicking role, striking three from four against both Warrington and St Helens last month.

But he hasn’t had as much success since then, and has shared the role with winger Marshall – who only kicked his first goal, at any level, in the Challenge Cup win at his old club Swinton last month.

“We’re not first-choice kickers but we’re still confident we can do it,” added Williams.

Sam Tomkins can also kick, with 35 Wigan goals to his name, and is back in the frame this weekend – though he is unlikely to be considered for a while as he has been sidelined with a broken foot.

Sky Sports pundit and ex-Warriors winger Brian Carney says Shaun Wane has “a real goal-kicking issue” to address.

Some fans have questioned why Wigan haven’t recruited a prolific goal-kicker since Pat Richards departed.

But Wane’s stance has always been he won’t sign a player for his kicking ability alone if he would otherwise not be worthy of a place in his team.

Meanwhile, supporters from the north west planning to travel to the Challenge Cup Final may need to make alternate travel arrangements after confirmation London Euston will be closed on August 26-27.