MICHAEL Maguire says Wigan’s young-guns have a golden opportunity to prove they can fill George Carmont’s boots when he retires.
The evergreen centre is hanging up his boots at the end of this year and returning to his native New Zealand.
And while looking to next year may appear premature, the Warriors bosses will need to decide over the coming months whether to recruit a replacement for Carmont – or hand his spot to one of three home-grown candidates.
Darrell Goulding scored 29 tries on the wing last season but until then was primarily a centre, and made a brief return to that role in his last first-team match against Crusaders earlier this month.
Maguire has also handed Super League chances to Josh Charnley and Stefan Marsh, and expects the academy-products to challenge for the vacant position.
Charnley has made the right wing role his own in recent weeks and the 19-year-old is the club’s leading try-scorer with 10 in as many appearances.
But he, like Marsh, can also play centre and the likely appointment of Shaun Wane – a big advocate of promoting home-grown players – as Maguire’s successor may work in their favour.
Warriors were linked with Stefan Ratchford, who has recently played at centre for his club Salford, earlier this year but Warrington now appear favourites for his signature.
Maguire said: “I think the boys here have shown with the way they’ve been performing that the competition is already there.
“Stef’s performed when he’s had his opportunities and I’m sure he’ll get many more. Josh can definitely play centre, he’s slotted into the team well, and I know Darrell has played mainly on the wing but he can play centre too, so we have got the players there.”
Carmont, 33 next month, wants to bow out on top and take his five children back to New Zealand.
“There’s a chance that his body would go around again but it’s probably his mind when you get to that age,” said Maguire.
“He’s a player who has achieved a lot in his career and hopefully we can send him out in the right fashion.”
Joel Tomkins is slowly establishing himself at right centre and with two Test forwards – Harrison Hansen (injury) and Gareth Hock (suspension) – returning to the team within the next month, a switch back to the second-row seems unlikely.
The Big One 3 showdown with Huddersfield on June 24 is the first game Hock is eligible to play in following a two-year doping ban. Maguire has not decided yet whether Hock will come straight back into the side, but added: “He’s doing everything we’ve asked of him.”
More than 2,000 discounted tickets for the Big One 3 have already been sold.