Hock: One step at a time

GARETH Hock is refusing to take his first-team spot for granted – and admits he wouldn’t be surprised if he loses out to the returning Chris Tuson this week.

The former Test back-rower was thrust straight back into the spotlight last Saturday, just two days after the end of his two-year ban, because Tuson was suspended.

But the academy product is back for this Friday’s DW Stadium clash against Leeds, and Hock told the Evening Post: “Tuse has been playing really well, so I can’t complain if I lose out to him. There are a lot of players going for a few positions and I know I need to earn my place.”

Aussie coach Michael Maguire said he had yet to decide who he will opt for.

Maguire will name a 19-man squad today but is expected to wait until after their final training session on Thursday evening before deciding which two players will miss the cut.

He said: “I haven’t decided yet, I’ll make a call later in the week.

“It’s a good position to be in, having so many players who are healthy –it’s a really competitive environment and it brings the best out of all of them.

“They know they have to be spot on every week.”

Hock was solid in two stints during the 46-12 win against the Giants. He played half-an-hour in total and was due to play for Warriors’ 9s team last night in Whitehaven to build-up his match fitness.

The explosive former Great Britain forward said: “It may take a few more weeks before I’m fully up and running. Four games at least, I reckon.

“But it was just so good to get out there against Huddersfield.”

The return of Hock strengthens Maguire’s options at both prop and second-row.

Front-rowers Paul Prescott, Lee Mossop, Jeff Lima and Andy Coley have all been in good form, while Stuart Fielden is expected to return from injury next month.

Yet despite the wealth of talent in that area, Wigan continue to be linked with a short-term move for Australian prop Ben Cross.

He is looking for a club after being released by Leeds, having failed to make an impact at Headingley.

Maguire has worked with him at Canberra and Melbourne, and declined to quash the speculation when asked whether Cross may be heading to the Warriors.

Frenchman Thierry Alibert has been appointed referee for Friday’s Sky-televised game.