Lions spell helps Woods prepare for Tigers test!

Josh Woods has played three games this season
Josh Woods has played three games this season

Academy graduate Josh Woods is looking forward to getting some “games under his belt” – starting with tonight’s clash at Castleford.

The halfback is in pole position to replace George Williams, who will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a knee injury.

His coach Shaun Wane has challenged him to grip his opportunity and, having figured in three games already this term, Woods hopes he can step up to the mark.

He said: “It will good to get a run of games and get a few games under my belt and more Super League experience so I’m going to take each week as it comes and try to perform.”

In between his matches this season – against St Helens and Hull KR twice – he has received regular playing-time in the Championship with dual-registration partners Swinton Lions.

“I’ve been doing my best for them and hopefully trying to keep them up,” he said.

“It’s a tough league in the Championship. We’ve got teams like Toronto and Leigh knocking on doors of the Super League so playing teams like that week in, week out can only do me good in the long run.

“Obviously, there should be a reserve league but when’s there’s not, it’s good that I can get down to the Championship and play there.

“There is some quality in the Championship.

“It’s a good league, although not so much at the lower end, but it’s still Super League experience in that league so it’s good.

“You can get away with a lot more, there is a few experienced pros who give it you and know all the tricks in the book, but it’s good to have that experience and it can only help my progression.”

Woods has been practicing kicking on a shortened and narrower pitch to try and adapt to Castleford’s compact pitch dimensions.

The 20-year-old said: “I’ve played there at 19s level a few times. It’s a small pitch, it’ll be enclosed, and it’ll be a hostile atmosphere but we’re ready for it and hopefully we can put on a show.

“It’ll be a smaller pitch and a bit tighter, and less in length so we have to adjust our kicking game, and hopefully we’ll get that in training this week.

“It is a big difference (to other pitches). Obviously, the lads played at Hull FC last week and it’s a big pitch so when you are kicking from in your own half, it’s a long kick.

“But when you are kicking from your own half at Cas, if you kick it as far as you can, you might kick it out of play and then they have a seven-tackle set.

“It’s just about adjusting to that and trying to kick early sometimes for the 40-20s. We’ll see how it is and hopefully kick well.”

And Woods will be content if his kicking responsibilities stretch to goal-kicking, if Sam Tomkins wants to hand over the tee.

He joked: “I think he’s content with it at the minute, but if he starts messing up, then I’ll be knocking on his door.”

Wane is also giving a debut to forward Liam Paisley, who has also been playing on Swinton and has got his chance due to John Bateman’s England call-up.

Liam Farrell was named in the provisional 19-man squad but Wane was making a call last night.

Taulima Tautai could replace Sean O’Loughlin in the 17-man squad which beat Hull FC 14-10 last Friday.

Tonight’s game, re-arranged from March, kicks-off at 7.45pm and is not being televised.

In other news, five Wigan Warriors players have been selected in England Youth’s 22-man squad to take on France in the two-match series next month.

Dean Beddall, Umlya Hanley, Ellis Longstaff, Brad O’Neil, Harry Rushton have all been chosen in the panel – more representatives than at any other club.

They face France on Friday July 13 and Monday July 16 in Le Barcares, Perpignan.