Chewing over Wigan’s halfback dilemma has been a dog’s life for Shaun Wane... quite literally!
The Warriors boss has coped with a wave of injuries this season but one constant has been the George Williams-Thomas Leuluai combination.
Now, Wane has been forced into choosing a new halfback pairing after Leuluai broke his jaw against Catalans last Sunday, ruling him out for six weeks.
And his problems will deepen the following week because Williams will be away on England duty.
Jake Shorrocks would be an automatic choice to come into the frame but he has been ruled out for the year through injury.
And captain Sean O’Loughlin, who filled in for Leuluai last Sunday, is not an option for next week as he, too, is playing in the Test against Samoa in Sydney.
“I’ve been through all my scenarios when I was walking the dog,” revealed Wane.
“My wife wanted to come with me and I said, ‘No, I need some thinking time’.”
For tonight’s trip to Castleford, he is expected to shift Sam Powell from hooker to partner Williams in the halves.
That would allow Micky McIlorum to step into the starting No.9 role, with youngster Josh Ganson coming onto the bench for a debut.
And he will need to shuffle the side again for the visit of Salford the following Friday, with utility forward Nick Gregson and full-back Morgan Escare his main playmaker options.
“I’ll think about that next week, my main priority is making sure we go to Castleford and give a good account of ourselves,” said Wane.
Wigan have won their last three matches, including a 42-22 victory over Catalans in their last outing.
“We improved as the game went on and in the end we got a 20-point win, and so you have to be happy with that against a team like Catalans,” said Wane.
“Our defence was poor at times, and that’s what we need to fix up.”
He ordered the pitch markings at their Orrell training ground to be brought in this week, to match the tight Castleford pitch.
Though Daryl Powell’s side have lost their last two matches, Wane still regards the early-season pacesetters as the best team in Super League.
“They’re the only team to hit their straps,” he said. “They’ve no injuries and they’re going to be strong - they’re the best in the competition, no question.
“They are the team to beat.
“They have a lot of good players. Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker is an outstanding talent... when a team can leave out Rangi Chase, they’re doing okay with injuries.”