Jake Shorrocks has been tipped as a future Wigan No.7 after forcing his way into Shaun Wane’s side.
The 20-year-old has featured in seven of Wigan’s last 10 games and is set to play a role in their charge towards the play-offs.
And Wane has tipped him for a bright future at his hometown club.
He said: “I’ve been really impressed with Jake.
“He’s very easy to coach, and he’s a good project for me – I’m spending a lot of time with him at the minute.
“He’s quick, he’s got some good skills, and the zip on his pass is fantastic.
“I see him as a future half in years to come.”
Due largely to a crippling injury list, Wane has handed out eight debuts to academy-products this season. With more frontline players back, all of the youngsters have now dropped out of the frame – with the exception of Shorrocks.
He has featured mainly off the bench, providing cover for Sam Powell at hooker, and has caught the eye with his pace and passing accuracy.
But he is predominantly a halfback and with Matty Smith poised for a move to St Helens, he is likely to get more opportunities in the side next year – even accounting for the return of Thomas Leuluai.
“He’s not the biggest, so he needs to get into the gym and have a good pre-season with us,” added Wane.
“He’s a couple of years off being anywhere near his best.”
Wane has never been afraid to hand young players a chance, giving the likes of Joe Burgess and George Williams starting roles.
Shorrocks will compete with Williams and Leuluai for halfback roles next season, though his chances would have been more limited if Smith was to stay – as had been the initial plan.
Smith’s move to Saints has been played down by Keiron Cunningham, who said he wasn’t “on the radar”, but it is expected to be finalised in the next few days.
Shorrocks’ growing stature may also solve a dilemma for next season – goal-kicking.
Smith has again been Wigan’s first-choice kicker this year, while the back-up option – Josh Charnley – is also departing for Sale Sharks.
Shorrocks, a former St Pat’s junior, is the only other player who has kicked goals this year, nailing five from as many attempts – admittedly from easy positions – in a 60-10 thrashing of Wakefield.
The other academy-products to poke into the first-team this year are Nick Gregson, Joe Bretherton, Jack Higginson, Luke Waterworth, Kyle Shelford, Jack Wells and Macauley Davies.