Josh Woods set for loan move... but still in Wigan Warriors' plans
Josh Woods is set to tie up a loan move to Leigh this week.
The half-back, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Thursday, will join the Centurions for the entire 2019 season.
Wigan staff believe a season playing regularly in the Championship will accelerate his development.
Although the Warriors are prepared to let him leave for a year, they rate Woods highly.
And they look set to offer him a new contract before he links up with Leigh – a reflection of the fact they believe he has a bright future with the club.
Woods played 10 matches last season – mainly as an under-study to George Williams – and scored a dramatic drop-goal in a 13-12 win against Warrington in July.
But he may have struggled for game-time if he remained at the club in 2019.
The arrival of Australian Jarrod Sammut from London Broncos has given coach Adrian Lam another halfback option to partner England international Williams.
Grand Final-winners Sam Powell and Kiwi Thomas Leuluai are in the squad – the latter is expected to start the campaign in his preferred position of hooker.
Wigan also have Jake Shorrocks, who spent part of last season on loan at Salford after recovering from a severe knee injury suffered in his appearance for the Warriors, in early 2017.
In addition, French livewire Morgan Escare spent part of last season in the halves, while teenage halfback Harry Smith is an exciting prospect who was man of the match in England academy’s 14-8 victory against the touring Australian Schoolboys on Saturday.
Woods has been linked with Leigh for several weeks but Wigan wanted him to stay for pre-season training while the move was tied up.
He went with the squad to a Red Bull camp in Milton Keynes last week.
Executive director Kris Radlinski has previously revealed Wigan were exploring loan options for fringe players after hopes of a revived, competitive reserves league failed to get off the ground.
Leigh are rebuilding for 2019 under coach John Duffy, who the Warriors staff know well – until last year he was at their dual-registration club Swinton.
Meanwhile, Lam will soon have a complete squad of players to work with.
England Knights duo Tom Davies and Powell are back in and will be joined soon by the England and France internationals.
Zak Hardaker is back in training after receiving treatment for his relationship with alcohol at the Sporting Chance clinic.