VETERAN Matty Bowen has been given the weekend off as Wigan begin the defence of their Challenge Cup.
Ryan Hampshire will be handed a chance to impress after Shaun Wane confirmed Bowen – the match-winner from Friday night’s thrilling victory over Catalan – will be rested for the trip to Championship outfit Dewsbury.
Hampshire has seven first-team appearances to his name. And part of Bowen’s remit when he joined the Warriors was to help prepare the 19-year-old as a possible successor.
Wane said: “We said from day one we’d be sensible about how we handled Matty, and part of his job is to help with Ryan’s development.
“They get on very well and he’s picking things up from Matty in training all the time. I’m excited about seeing him play.
“He’s a great kid, very smart, and he looks to have a bright future. He was originally a stand-off, but with his pace he seemed like a natural fit for a full-back and he’s really taken to it.”
Wane may rest other members of his squad, but has decided against making wholesale changes given the prize at stake, and his respect for their opposition.
But Bowen is the only frontline star who Wane has already decided will not play.
The 32-year-old is settling into his new club, and last Friday showed fans just why he was recruited to replace Sam Tomkins in the Wigan No.1 shirt.
He scored twice in a 22-16 win against Catalan – including a long-range effort in the dying stages to get his club out of jail.
But he deflected praise of his last-gasp effort, while emphasising the need to learn lessons from their patchy display.
“I’m lucky enough to score the tries,” he said. “We just have to review the game and improve on the things we need to improve on.
“We were lucky to get away with the win and we can’t do that in coming weeks.
“We made it tough for ourselves and didn’t play the game we wanted to play.
“We didn’t start the way we wanted to start and full credit to Catalan they gave it to us.”
While the victory wasn’t as comprehensive as some fans had hopes, Bowen provided a grandstand finish for them to celebrate.
“It’s always good when the crowd supports their team,” he added. “They really get behind us as a team.”