Hopes 'unbelievable' Jai Field will make Wigan Warriors debut
Adrian Lam will wait until Thursday before deciding whether three players will feature in Wigan’s season opener against Leigh – but Bevan French won’t play.
The Warriors boss seemed hopeful new recruit Jai Field – who has been nursing a back injury – will feature in the televised Headingley clash.
But Lam will give him, as well as Oliver Gildart and Jackson Hastings, until later in the week to prove they are ready.
Gildart has had a groin problem while halfback Hastings landed back in the country last week. French, meanwhile, is due to arrive back from Australia today or tomorrow after an extended break to spend time with his family.
Zak Hardaker revealed he will move from centre to his old No.1 spot in French’s absence, and Lam will be keeping his fingers crossed he has some experienced backs to put into his three-quarter line.
“There’s some doubt over Gildart,” said Lam.
“Jai has to get through this week, having to make sure he’s up to speed with everything we’ve done, both in attack and defence. We’ll hold him back until the final day and make a decision then.
“Bevan will be in the country in the next couple of days, then we’ll assess the situation and move forward from there.
“Bevan won’t be considered in round one, and Jackson we’ll make a decision later on this week, I’m not sure he’s where he needs to be physically.”
French will need to complete a five-day quarantine period, and return a negative Covid-19 test, before he can link back-up with his Warriors team-mates.
Lam is excited about the prospect of seeing former Parramatta livewire Field in a Wigan shirt.
“I’ve watched him since he was a junior, he’s very much like Bevan French but in the halves. He can ballplay with that speed,” said the coach.
“If he gets into open space this season you’ll see how unbelievably quick he is, we’re looking forward to adding that speed and X-factor to our team.”
Lam confirmed Dom Manfredi is out with a “small fracture to his thumb”, as previously reported, while Wigan’s other first-choice winger, Liam Marshall, is sidelined until May or June.
If needed, forward Willie Isa can switch to the centre role while youngsters Sam Halsall and James O’Donnell are also in the mix.
It seems likely utility Jake Bibby will take one wing role, with either Umyla Hanley or Halsall on the other flank.
“We’re not carrying as big a squad as last year, so we’ll be looking at a couple of young ones and I’m confident they can do a job if they’re put in that position,” added Lam.
Ex-Warriors prop Ben Flower says he is not available for Leigh, who are back in Super League this year.