Wigan Warriors' pre-season matches: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from Wigan's two friendlies last weekend...

Monday, 21st January 2019, 8:52 am
Updated Monday, 21st January 2019, 9:59 am
Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards in London

1. Adrian Lam had a watching brief - alongside his planned successor, Shaun Edwards - as Darrell Goulding's team comprised of youngsters and fringe players beat London Skolars 34-6 on Friday afternoon.

The Capital Challenge is staged at Honourable Artillery Company, in the heart of London's financial district, and former coach Shaun Wane - now with Scotland RU - and league legend Ellery Hanley were among those who attended.

On the field, prop Joe Bullock - a recruit from Barrow - lay down an early marker with two tries...

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Zak Hardaker prepares to kick a goal - he hit four from five

2. And Bullock was one of nine players to back up two days later at Salford.

Lam fielded the bulk of his front-line squad - only Thomas Leuluai (suspension), Joe Burgess (injury) and Sean O'Loughlin (rested) were absent - as they registered a useful 28-18 win.

Pre-season friendlies can often fail to deliver but by that low measure, this was a step above, in terms of both quality and ball-control.

Fans even got to see the 'shot clock' in action for the first time - though the obvious talking point was...

Tom Davies was among Wigan's try-scorers

3. Zak Hardaker. He made his first appearance in 16 months - and his first in a Wigan shirt - and finished with a personal haul of 12 points, from a try and four goals from five attempts.

Obviously he had a few cobwebs to dust off but he did everything asked of him over 80 minutes, and finished the game at left centre.

Bullock again caught the eye and while fellow recruit Jarrod Sammut had few chances, he produced two of Wigan's better kicks, marshalled his side and even showed a touch of niggle.

4. Lam has made changes to Wigan's style of play and on that front, he admitted they are a work in progress.

George Williams looked a threat when he ran the ball, creating two first-half tries, and in the second-half his fellow England international Joe Greenwood was a towering presence.

Lam will take a side to Barrow on Saturday, but is likely to rest his top 17 players for the following Thursday's Super League opener against St Helens.

5. Finally, a word on Salford.

Ian Watson's side are well-drilled and were particularly impressive at the start of each half.

Aussie halfback Jackson Hastings played a key role in securing their Super League place last year and while he is their go-to player, he wasn't the only one to catch the eye - Watson even compared Niall Evalds to the great Darren Lockyer, for the way he switched before full-back and half-back.

Ex-Warriors Lee Mossop, Gil Dudson and Mark Flanagan all played, as well as Greg Burke... who even had a spell at hooker.