SHAUN Wane has been dealt another injury blow ahead of the new Super League season.
Prop Epa Lauaki is unlikely to be fit for Friday’s opener at Salford after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring problem.
The Tongan was named on the bench for Saturday’s friendly at Warrington – which Wigan lost 20-0 – but didn’t get on the pitch because of the injury.
His setback comes just days after Harrison Hansen was ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a broken wrist and as Chris Tuson struggles with a knee problem.
Wane said: “Epa went to warm up at half-time and felt him hamstring tweak again. Hopefully he’ll be okay in a couple of weeks.”
Wane rates Tuson’s chances of facing Salford as “50-50” and is keeping his fingers crossed he will be passed fit to ease his back-row problems.
Wigan only lost Gareth Hock to Widnes a week ago, and with Hansen sidelined for a considerable spell, it has left a big void in the pack.
Liam Farrell didn’t figure for long against the Wolves to protect him for this Friday.
And Jack Hughes’ switch to the left centre role looks to be put on hold, at least until Tuson returns. Wane is comfortable with playing Iain Thornley in the three-quarters, and praised the ex-Sale Sharks back for an “outstanding” display in defeat against the Wolves.
“It’s the backrow where we’re under the pump a bit,” added Wane. “Tuse has a 50-50 chance for this week, if not then hopefully it’ll be the following week.
“Jack Hughes can obviously play there, we also have Iain Thornley in the mix – I thought his performance (at centre) was one of the real positives against Warrington.”
Wane was less enthused about the display of Kiwi Anthony Gelling, who “needs to improve...quickly” on his performance against the Wolves which once again saw him play at second-row.
l WIGAN have received an allocation of 2,050 North Stand tickets for Friday’s game at Salford (8pm KO).
They went on sale today priced £20 adults, £15 concessions and £10 U16s.
Matchday admission is £2 dearer across the board.