Flower warning: Stop Hock in his tracks
Ben Flower says Wigan will need to close the lid on Gareth Hock's box of tricks to stretch their winning start to the season.
Super League newcomers Leigh Centurions arrive at the DW Stadium tonight. And for Hock, it marks his first return to the venue since he left his hometown club in 2012.
And former team-mate Flower knows all about the combative forward’s game-breaking qualities.
“He’s a quality player, he’s got tricks up his sleeve,” said Welshman Flower.
“At one point in his career he was one of the best in the world, and he’s a big, physical bloke as well. You need to get stuck into him, otherwise he will grow another leg and run over the top of you.
“Whatever he throws at you, you’ve just got to crack on.”
Hock is among several ex-Warriors in the Leigh ranks for tonight’s non-televised derby, with Harrison Hansen, Micky Higham, Danny Tickle and Ryan Hampshire also in Neil Jukes’ squad.
“Gaz is going to be up for the game, but so will H – every time I’ve played against him he’s always had a real good game,” said Flower.
“The ex-Wigan boys will step their game up.
“They will be pumped and ready to go - and so are we.”
Leigh’s last win at Wigan was in August 1983, while these borough rivals last met in the league back in 2005 – the Centurions’ only previous season in Super League.
The two clubs have met at the Sports Village in pre-season friendlies in recent years, with Shaun Wane often giving of his fringe players a chance.
“They’ve had us in these friendlies, and we’ve never had a chance to play them again,” said Flower. “So this is our chance to do our best and try and come away with the win. It’s going to be a game which could go 80 minutes.”