Powell handed a chance to shine

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YOUNG gun Sam Powell is poised to be thrown into the deep end against Hull KR on Sunday.

Coach Shaun Wane spent the weekend pondering his team selection for their opening friendly match.

And though he has yet to settle on many of the positions, he has decided to hand Powell a chance to impress.

The 19-year-old – yet to figure for the first-team – will start the game at Craven Park in one of the half-back positions. And Wane hopes he will justify his decision by handling the step-up from the Under-20s.

The head coach said: “I’m going to start with Sam against Hull KR.

“I’ve been impressed with him during pre-season training.

“Sam’s a good halfback. He is only young and he has still got a bit to learn.

“But the best thing about Sam is that he listens to what he’s told. He’s spent a lot of time with Brett Finch and Tommy Leuluai, as well as (assistant coach) Iestyn Harris, and he’s always asking questions and listening to what they say.

“He’s shown a real willingness to learn and improve, and that’s what I like to see.”

Powell, a former Hindley and Wigan St Pat’s amateur, has been training with the first-team since 2010.

He captained the Under-20s to Grand Final success and has represented England at academy level. The ex-Standish High pupil – who has been handed the No,29 shirt – is one of a clutch of exciting youngsters in the senior squad who are hoping to breakthrough into Wane’s plans during 2012.

The likes of Joe Mellor, Matt Russell, Logan Tomkins and Ryan King will also be angling for chances, while Jack Hughes and Dom Crosby will be looking to build on their brief experiences in the first-team.

After Sunday’s friendly at Hull KR (kick-off 3pm) Wigan will face Huddersfield on Thursday, January 19 at the DW Stadium in a game which will serve as Sean O’Loughlin’s testimonial.

Then the following week, Wane will take his side to Salford to face Phil Veivers’ Reds at their new stadium.

“All the lads will get a chance in the friendly matches, at some stage,” added Wane, who has only three players – Amos Roberts, Stuart Fielden and Paul Prescott – ruled out of the pre-season programme due to injury.