Talking RL: Wane’s bold selection ploy

Oliver Gildart may make his Wigan debut tomorrow
Oliver Gildart may make his Wigan debut tomorrow

At 19, Oliver Gildart may not be the youngest player who Shaun Wane has handed a Wigan debut.

But if he includes him in his squad for tomorrow’s clash at Warrington, it will be one of the biggest occasions in which he has handed a youngster a first-team chance.

Now we’re into the Super 8s phase of the season, it would be a bold move.

But it may also prove an inspired decision, as it would no doubt serve as a reminder to the rest of his players that he isn’t prepared to relax his stringent, transparent selection policy.

Sure, Gildart has come into the frame because, apparently, Kiwi Anthony Gelling has a rib injury.

But if he plays, it shows that Wane isn’t scared to give a teenager a chance – even if it’s an important game, even if it’s in front of the Sky cameras – if he feels he deserves it.

And if there’s a good time to remind players that they can not afford to be complacent, it’s surely now, at the business end of the campaign.

And that starts tomorrow night at Warrington, a venue where the Warriors were comprehensively beaten 17-6 just a month ago.

Wigan, of course, have not had much luck on their travels this season.

Indeed, superfan Bilko, an 18th man contributor, reckons the club’s away form this year is their third worst since rugby league went 13-a-side – that’s more than 100 seasons!

And yet, incredibly, there they are, second in the Super League ladder.

Tomorrow’s game is a golden chance for Wane’s men to improve their away form winning ratio.

*****

WARRINGTON’S promotional video ahead of tomorrow’s game has certainly got a few talking.

By the editing and graphics, I’m guessing it wasn’t cheap. If you haven’t seen it, star signing Chris Sandow describes his journey to England – and then declares he is ready to ‘smash some pies’.

To emphasise the point, he is seen booting a pie from a kicking tee, and then crushing two in his hands. It’s all good fun, and given the fact people are talking about it and showing it to their friends, you could argue it has been a success.

But I’m surprised Chris Sandow agreed to it – he was already under pressure, without the Wolves painting a bright red target on his head.

And it also suggests Warrington are much more bothered about Wigan than the other way around.

*****

THE opening two rounds of the Super 8s have not been sensational. Not yet.

Even Wigan’s game at Leeds last Friday was underwhelming. Maybe it was because of all the stoppages, but it didn’t seem as high quality as previous encounters between the two.

In the Qualifiers, no Championship club has yet to beat Super League opposition – suggesting the same teams which ‘went down’ will come back up again for 2016.

But this isn’t a dig at the Super 8s because, in truth, it’s been the format which has helped keep the games entertaining.

Think about it.

Warrington’s game at Castleford last Thursday was must-see viewing because if they lost (they did) they almost certainly dropped out of the play-offs race. Wigan can hammer a nail in their coffin tomorrow night.

Hull FC, who have nothing to play for, shocked us all by winning at St Helens – and now Saints are, incredibly, in danger of missing out on the play-offs.

Imagine if this was last year (or any under the old format). Warrington wouldn’t be too concerned that they’re now sixth, because they’d still be in the ludicrously-generous top-eight play-offs spots.

And I doubt Saints would be sweating on the outcome of tonight’s match against Huddersfield.