GARETH Hock admits the first hat-trick of his career came at the perfect time as he turns his attentions to the Challenge Cup.
The second-rower marked his first starting appearance since his doping ban with a treble against Wakefield last Friday night in a comfortable 48-6 victory.
And Hock is hoping his scoring feat did enough to cement him a position in the side against Warrington this Saturday as Michael Maguire prepares to welcome back a string of senior players to his side.
Although Chris Tuson drops out of the 17 that overcame the Wildcats due to a knee injury, his loss is more than off-set by the addition of five stars to the squad.
Ryan Hoffman, Thomas Leuluai and Joel Tomkins were all rested last week, while Stuart Fielden and Paul Prescott are back in contention after injury lay-offs.
And with three of those players in direct competition with Hock for a place – second-rower Hoffman and props Fielden and Prescott – he admits he was glad to get over for a hat-trick.
He said: “There are a lot of the boys back this week so it’s a fight for positions, which is good.
“I was glad I played a few minutes last Friday because I’ve not had too much game-time recently, and it was nice to get the tries – it got the adrenaline going.
“It’s a massive game against Warrington and hopefully I get in. Fingers crossed last week’s performance will keep me in.” Saturday’s game is a sell-out and the game is live on BBC, kick-off 4.30pm.
Wigan have allowed Castleford to field their on-loan player Ben Davies in their Cup quarter-final against Huddersfield. Davies scored a try for the Tigers last Saturday.
Meanwhile, chairman Ian Lenagan has refused to clarify the ongoing uncertainty over the coaching position at Wigan.
The seemingly inevitable appointment of assistant Shaun Wane as Maguire’s successor has dragged on for months, with no official confirmation from the club.
Yesterday the Warriors ran adverts in the rugby league trade press seeking an assistant coach – which appeared to suggest Wane’s appointment as head coach might be imminent.
However, the adverts were worded that they were seeking an “additional assistant coach”, which only muddied the waters further, particularly as it is unclear whether half-back Paul Deacon will retire this year and take up a coaching position or play on another 12 months.
Though Lenagan would not be drawn on the issue, sources at the club say Wane remains the front-runner to take charge in 2012 but there is unlikely to be any announcement soon.