PROMISING debuts from Dan Sarginson and John Bateman and a four-try haul from winger Joe Burgess were the main positives which Shaun Wane took from Wigan’s opening friendly against Leigh yesterday.
A youthful team battled back from 16-12 down at half-time to claim a 36-28 victory in an entertaining derby at the Sports Village.
Winger Burgess grabbed four of the Warriors’ seven tries, including three during a scoring blitz early in the second-half which also saw centre Sarginson score twice. And though they finished the game as they had started – on the back-foot – there was enough in between to leave Wane encouraged.
“I was pleased with patches,” he said. “I thought we did some really good things, especially early in the second-half when our skill level was outstanding.
“I’m happy the players did what we practiced.
“Sarginson and Bateman did well, they showed they’re going to be players for us, and Joe Burgess had a good game.
“We just weren’t consistent enough, we were rusty in spells, but that’s why we play these pre-season games.” Wane handed Burgess, 19, his Super League debut last season and fans can expect to see more of him this year following Pat Richards’ departure - especially if yesterday’s display was any indication.
“Dom Manfredi did well too, but Joe was the one who stood out the most,” said Wane. “I’d be comfortable with either on the wing.”
Sam Hopkins also debuted for a Wigan side which had an eight-man bench and was led out by centre Anthony Gelling. Full-back Ryan Hampshire finished with four goals from seven attempts, and frequently caught the eye before being replaced by Lewis Tierney.
NRL recruits Eddy Pettybourne and Matty Bowen watched from the stands with other frontline players, and Wane says he plans to play some of them in their next friendly, at Workington on Sunday.
“There’s a good chance Eddy will get a game, but I’ve not made my mind up yet,” added Wane. Wigan also play a friendly against St Helens the following weekend, while a reserve side takes on London Skolars this Friday.
Meanwhile, Wane revealed winger Josh Charnley was on track with his recovery from an abdominal operation and will “hopefully” face Huddersfield in their Super League opener on February 7.