Ready to go in Sam’s town

Wigan Warrior Sam Hopkins
Wigan Warrior Sam Hopkins
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SHAUN Wane will be keen to see how Sam Hopkins performs as he goes up against his old club on Sunday.

The Warriors step up their preparations for the new season with a friendly at Leigh.

Wane plans to finalise a 20-man squad after training today.

He has confirmed London recruit Dan Sarginson will make his debut, while John Bateman has surprised staff by making a quick recovery from a back injury suffered in Florida earlier this week. And there will be another new face in a Wigan kit – even if it is a player very familiar to the Leigh Sports Village.

Hopkins was arguably the lesser-known name of Wane’s six signings for 2014.

The only one not to play NRL or Super League, the 23-year-old didn’t travel with the senior side to Florida, and instead accompanied the Under-19s in their trip to France.

But Wane has big hopes for the prop or second-rower, and is excited at seeing him in action against him home-town club.

Wane said: “Sam’s still got a bit of work to do to fit into our systems, but he’ll get there. He’s exactly where we expected him to be at this stage.

“It’s a big step-up from part-time to full-time, especially at an environment like ours, and I felt it was best for him to go with the 19s to France. But he killed it in their first game, he was the dominant forward, and I’ looking forward to seeing how he goes on Sunday.”

In his past two seasons, Wane has fielded reserve teams in friendlies against Leigh.

And while the panel for Sunday’s match is far from full-strength, there is plenty of senior experience among the names already confirmed. Sam Powell, Anthony Gelling, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby and Iain Thornley were familiar faces in Wane’s double-winning squad last season.

Dom Manfredi and Joe Burgess – battling for a wing spot this year – will have a chance to impress. And George Williams, Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney will be hoping to kick on after debuting in 2013.

Meanwhile, Wane said there was “absolutely no truth” in a report Down Under yesterday linking him with New Zealand Warriors in 2015.