Why Adrian Lam has team selection dilemma for Challenge Cup tie

Adrian Lam admits he faces a “tricky” balancing act when it comes to selecting his team for Friday’s Challenge Cup tie.
Tony Clubb hasn't figured in Wigan's opening two gamesTony Clubb hasn't figured in Wigan's opening two games
Tony Clubb hasn't figured in Wigan's opening two games

The Warriors take on Championship outfit York City Knights looking to secure a place in the quarter-final.

Wigan will be strongly fancied to claim the victory, particularly after their comfortable 34-6 win against Wakefield last Thursday to secure back-to-back wins on their return to Super League action.

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On the one hand, Lam may see this as a good chance to give some of his squad players some game-time – particularly as there is no reserve competition this year.

Experienced props Tony Clubb and Mitch Clark haven’t figured in their opening two rounds, while youngsters Sam Halsall and James O’Donnell have also twice been unplaying members of the 21-man squad.

But on the flipside, Lam has seen combinations in his side develop in the opening two rounds and may not want to disrupt that.

And players who have been moved out of position – such as Liam Farrell and Willie Isa to centre – may benefit from another match in their makeshift roles.

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“It’s a tricky one, because with so many changes in the side, do you run with that to get some repetitions into them and combinations into them?” said Lam.

“With no reserves, we have to take into consideration the players who have been in the 21 and not been in the 17, do we get them some game time?

“So I’m not too sure yet.

“But I know it’s a competition we’re very passionate about, as a club we have a love affair with the Challenge Cup.”

While Lam is undecided about his team plans, he has no doubt about the quality of their opponents.

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York have been promoted to the Championship this term, coach James Ford is highly-rated and his squad includes Super League veterans such as Adam Cuthbertson and Ryan Atkins.

Lam, interestingly, is a City Knights fan because of his love of the Yorkshire city – which he describes as his “favourite place in the UK”.

“We want to respect York and put our best team out there, it’s not going to be as easy as some people will try and build it up to be – a Championship team against a Super League team,” he added.

“It’s at York, they’re building as a club, I’ve watched them quite closely and it’s going to be a tough game.”