SHAUN Wane last night said he was “amazed” Mike McIlorum was hit with a three-game ban by the RFL judiciary.
And he revealed the club’s intention to appeal the severity of the punishment which is threatening to rule him out of a place in the Grand Final.
McIlorum was given the suspension, along with a £300 fine, following his dismissal in last Friday’s 26-18 derby defeat by St Helens.
He was shown a red card by referee James Child just 15 minutes into the final game of the regular Super League season for a high and late tackle on Saints prop Anthony Laffranchi.
McIlorum pleaded guilty to the offence, but Wane had hoped the fact he missed most of the game against Saints and Laffranchi was uninjured – as well as the video mitigation presented to the panel – would count in his favour.
Wane said: “I’m amazed, I didn’t think he’d get three games. I’m amazed.”
An RFL spokesman confirmed the England hooker could not use an Under-20s game towards his suspension.
A formal appeal was expected to be lodged by Wigan this morning – because McIlorum received the maximum ban under the guidelines, there’s no risk of a harsher punishment other than an increased fine. Any appeal would be heard today.
Wigan take on Catalan Dragons in the first qualifying play-off at the DW Stadium on Friday, when a victory would take them straight through to the semi-finals and to within 80 minutes of the Grand Final. A defeat would mean an extra game for the Warriors the following weekend against one of the winners of this weekend’s elimination play-offs – which would free up McIlorum for a Grand Final shot, should they progress that far. McIlorum was red-carded for a punch against Bradford in mid-season.
With the Leeds-born ace out of the picture for Friday’s visit of the Dragons, attention will now shift to who may replace him in the side.
Matty Smith, the mid-season recruit from Salford, can operate at dummy-half and may be charged with that task now that Thomas Leuluai has returned from injury to retake his scrum-half spot.
Wane’s other obvious option would be fringe hooker Logan Tomkins, who made his breakthrough into the first-team earlier this year against Widnes.
The players trained yesterday, when Wane showed them footage of their 36-14 win at Montpellier in June.
Wane will today name his 19-man squad for the game.