The pressure will be off Dom Manfredi if – as expected – he makes his long-awaited comeback against Warrington tomorrow night.
That is the loud message from team-mate Sam Tomkins, who says the winger will need time to find his feet after more than two years out through injury.
He said: “Before Dom was injured he was the best winger in the competition by a mile, he was a shoo-in for the England side. But don’t put pressure on him, let him get back playing, and in 2019 you will see the old Dom.
“Don’t expect him to light it up and score 10 tries. We just want him to play again, get a few games under his belt, and next year turn into the player he was because he was outstanding.”
Tomkins is delighted for Manfredi, who has played two reserve games this summer after recovering from successive major knee injuries.
“We’re wired up to play rugby league, and to have that taken away for six months is tough mentally,” he said.
“Well, he’s done it for two years – I wouldn’t have handled it as well he has. It’s a lot of credit for still being around, a lot of players would have taken it a lot worse.”
Manfredi admitted he was close to quitting rugby league after his comeback last year at reserve level failed, resulting in another 12-month lay-off.
“It was torturous,” the 24-year-old admitted.
“At its worse, I was saying to my mum: ‘If I can find a job I’ll give in now’.
“I’d done ground work before but I wasn’t fit enough to do anything physical.
I was looking at anything, my head was all over the place, but my mum said: ‘Don’t be daft, you’ll get through it. I was very close to giving it in. If I had something else to walk into, I would have done.”
George Williams says all the players will be thrilled for Manfredi if he gets the nod to return against the Wolves.
“I’ve known Dom since I was 10, we used to play against each other and then we were in the scholarship together,” said Williams. “It’s tough what he’s been through. I’m made up for him.”
As expected, Taulima Tautai has returned to the Wigan squad after serving a four-game ban. Ben Flower has been included but there is no Sean O’Loughlin (calf) or Joe Greenwood (suspension).
Warrington are missing Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Hill, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Mike Cooper.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Bateman, Clubb, Davies, Escaré, Flower, Gildart, Hamlin, Isa, Leuluai, Manfredi, Navarrete, Paisley, Partington, Powell, Sarginson, Sutton, Tautai, Tomkins, Williams.