How many Wigan Warriors backs will be missing for Super League opener?

Adrian Lam faces an anxious few days as he waits to see how many frontline players will be missing from Wigan's Super League opener.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:47 am
Dom Manfredi suffered a thumb injury in training

He admitted last week he was close to knowing his strongest side, yet in a worst case scenario he could be without six backs for their clash with Leigh, in Leeds, on March 26.

Winger Dom Manfredi will today face checks on a thumb injury suffered in training, with Lam fearing they could be without him for three weeks.

Wigan are already without their other first-choice winger, Liam Marshall, who is recoving from a serious knee injury which cut short his campaign last year. The livewire winger is targeting a return in May or June.

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Elsewhere, centre Oliver Gildart (abductor/groin) and new signing Jai Field (back) will be monitored this week with Lam keeping his fingers crossed they will be available.

Australian halfback Jackson Hastings was linking-up with his teammates today for the first time having completed a mandatory quarantine period since flying back.

But Lam admitted that both him and Bevan French won't be risked unless they are up-to-speed after so long away. The club were happy for them both to have extended time with their families this off-season.

"Jackson is in for training tomorrow, we'll test him and if he's not quite right he won't play in round one, so we'll wait and see," said Lam, after Sunday's 20-6 pre-season loss to Salford.

"Bevan is probably a week after and we're in the same situation again."

Although Hastings is a key player, if he is not available to face Leigh Wigan at least have cover at halfback with Harry Smith able to partner Thomas Leuluai.

In a worst case scenario, it would be in the outside backs where they may struggle for numbers.

Zak Hardaker switched from centre to his old full-back role against Salford, while Jake Bibby occupied the wing spot he finished last year in.

But they are short of experienced cover, having let Chris Hankinson join London Broncos for the 2021 season.

Youngsters Umyla Hanley and Sam Halsall - who both debuted last year - are in his squad. They prefer full-back and centre respectively, but can both play on the wing.

Lam's injury concerns do not stretch to the pack, where he has a fully fit contingent of forwards - and some of them have played in the backs.

Second-rower Willie Isa has played at centre for Wigan, and actually started his career as a winger, while marquee recruit John Bateman has also played at centre.

And another academy-graduate, James O'Donnell, is primarily a back-rower but he started at centre against Salford and also played that role in his one and only competitive match last year.

Lam could provide an update on Manfredi's injury early this week, while he will be closely monitoring the progress of the four other backs who are a doubt for their first match in less than two weeks' time.