New Warrior Chris Hankinson earns praise for debut performance
New Warriors recruit Chris Hankinson may not have enjoyed a dream debut on Thursday night against St Helens, but could hold his head high after impressing his team-mates.
The centre only arrived at Warriors on Tuesday after his signing from the Championship’s Swinton Lions, but finished his first outing in credit despite Wigan’s 14-6 defeat.
And he caught the eye of one of the club’s most senior players in hooker Tommy Leuluai.
“I thought he was our best player,” Leuluai told the Wigan Post after the full-time hooter.
“It was a good effort I thought.”
Hankinson was thrown in at the deep end, starting at centre in a patched-up squad which was missing a clutch of front-line stars, with coach Shaun Wane revealing training in the build-up to the derby was also disrupted due to injuries.
But Leuluai was reluctant to focus on Wigan’s injury problems, rightly pointing-out St Helens had their own absentees for the derby.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but we only met Chris on Tuesday,” he said.
“They had a few players missing too so we can’t really look too much at that.”
Despite Wigan’s players earning praise from Wane for their effort, their attacking play was disappointing in a game which Saints always looked in control.
But Leuluai explained neither side would have been completely happy with their performance, and that if simple errors at key flashpoints would have been smoothed out the complexion of the game would have looked different.
“Both teams were tired towards the end and both teams were hanging on, both of their tries I thought we could have fixed it,” he said.
“In that respect it’s a bit disappointing but we saw a lot of desire, a lot of grit.
“But I don’t think they’d be happy with their performance too. Things in our attack weren’t great – it was the type of game it was. If we’d stop their first try, it’s 8-6 – a battle.”
Warriors now have the week to prepare for the visit of Catalans Dragons next Friday for the final round of Super League fixtures before the Super 8s starts.
They fought back in the second half to beat the Dragons 32-23 back in April, but Catalans could seal their place in the Super 8s by beating Salford in Perpignan this evening.
And Leuluai admitted the high-octane nature of Thursday’s derby took its toll on the players ahead of next week’s clash. “It’s a tough game of football and there will be some sore bodies,” he said.