'˜Tough conversations' for Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane
Shaun Wane admits choosing his team to face Castleford tonight led to some '˜tough conversations.'
The coach admits he hasn’t decided yet whether to include Frenchmen Romain Navarrete or Morgan Escare after naming them in his initial squad as he looks to field a strong team.
Full-back Escare is included in the coach’s squad after serving as the 18th man against Leeds, and impressed in the Reserves last weekend.
But Wane has no injury concerns for the visit of last year’s table toppers, and with Ben Flower returning to the fold after missing last week’s win at Headingley with concussion, there was no room in the squad for popular Australian forward Gabe Hamlin.
“I’ve had some tough conversations with players this morning, but I enjoy it, it’s good,” said Wane.
“The players understand what we expect and what our standards are and they know where they are when they come in. It’s easy conversations but I’ve not had them for a long, long time so at the minute I’m relishing it.
“The players know, when we’ve got Morgan and Gabe stepping back and playing in our Reserves they know what we want from them and how to get back in the first grade. They both did a great job.
“They’re very, very close. Whether we go with them this week I’m not 100 per cent yet but I’ve got a lot of people really challenging and they’re not far off so the competition is fantastic.”
Despite leaving Escare out since the Good Friday loss to St Helens in which he left the field with concussion, Wane insists he is still very much in his plans for the remainder of the season.
Some fans were surprised when the coach cited form as a reason for Escare’s omission from the squad to face Catalans,but Wane explained the decision.
“You watch him play for our Reserves and he did everything I want him to do in first grade,” he said.
“They’re very technical bits, probably bits people won’t notice but Morgan was the first one to say he’d not been doing it. He understood and they’ve been very positive. They get it, Gabe gets it. There are some middles playing really well at the moment and we’ve no injuries so he just has to bide his time.
“It’s the same with Morgan, same with Romain, but I’m very happy with their attitude.
“You need your best players firing, you need your most experienced because we’re going to be under the pump this week.”
Tonight’s clash ushers in the half-way point of the season before the split into the Super 8s.
And while Wigan are in second spot, two points behind leaders St Helens with a game in hand, Wane thinks his side haven’t played to their potential yet.
But he thinks the Tigers test will be a good yardstick for the rest of the campaign as top eight teams jostle for a better position and a better crack at reaching the play-offs.
“If we play anything like to our potential Castleford will be under the pump. It’s got the makings of a fantastic game,” Wane said.
“We have a good idea of when we’re going well, what we need to improve on, now we need more consistent performances before we go into the split and the games get very important. We need to make sure we do good things for longer.”