'Why Zak Hardaker can be a better centre than full-back for Wigan Warriors'
Adrian Lam believes Zak Hardaker can thrive as a centre – and become even better than he is at full-back.
The former Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner switched positions in the opening weekend to allow Bevan French to take the No.1 role.
And French – man of the match in the 16-10 win against Warrington – is set to continue in the pivotal position when the Warriors travel on Castleford tonight.
It means Hardaker will carry on at right centre, having played most of last year at full-back.
And Lam reckons he will flourish in the position.
“Zak is one of my favourite players, and I always felt he would make a really good centre,” said the coach.
“At some point this year, I think he’ll play full-back, and I think he’s a great full-back - but I just think he could be a better centre.
“I know he’s played a bit there before and it’s where he played for Great Britain, and I think there’s potential for him to represent England at centre later this year.
“With his size, he’s giving us a different dimension there. He’s a strong, solid defender, he’s got a big body and when you look at that right edge – with Thomas Leuluai, Willie Isa and whoever we play on the wing – it’s a pretty strong defensive side. We’re excited about it.”
French arrived late last-season from Parramatta and showed signs of his quality, mainly playing on the wing.
“I’ve watched him pretty closely over a long period of time and I thought, at full-back, he could give us that X-factor,” said Lam.
“I think as the season goes on he’ll be dynamite.”
Sam Powell could miss out tonight through injury after being knocked out in the opener eight days ago, joining George Burgess (hip) on the sidelines.
But Lam had no suspension concerns after the RFL’s match review panel said Morgan Smithies – placed on report after Blake Austin complained to the referee of gouging – had no case to answer.
“He’s not that sort of player, he’s one of our most honest kids and I was a little bit angry in the game that it had been brought to the point of being cited,” said Lam.
“But I’m happy that the process works.
“I don’t know what he (Austin) thought, all I know is that Morgan is not that kind of player.”
Kick-off tonight is 7.45pm and the game is not on TV.