SHAUN Wane yesterday moved to defuse any row over Gareth Hock being blocked from playing against Wigan on Saturday.
The Warriors blocked him from facing them under the terms of his season-long loan to Widnes.
Wane’s counterpart Denis Betts accused Wigan of “running scared” of Hock – and added: “If I let a player go on loan, I wouldn’t hinder his development by saying he couldn’t play against us.”
Wane – a former Wigan team-mate of Betts – was reluctant to be drawn on the remarks.
“Development? How old is Gaz, nearly 30?” Wane said. “We don’t make stupid, ridiculous comments like Denis has done.
“I don’t want to get into it. I think it was a stupid comment. We don’t make them.”
Wane added that the clause to prevent Hock facing Wigan wasn’t his request, and said he “wouldn’t be bothered” if he played or not. Hock left his home-town club earlier this year after relations soured dramatically.
Wane has a more pressing concern, over who will take Gil Dudson’s place in his match-day squad for the Sky-televised encounter (kick-off 5.45pm).
The Welsh prop visited a specialist yesterday and was told he faces around four to six weeks on the sidelines. Wane was already without senior front-rowers Paul Prescott (back), Lee Mossop (shoulder) and Epa Lauaki (leg).
“It’s a shame for Gil, because he’d been playing really well for us, and I’m sure he’ll come back stronger,” he said.
He had hoped Lauaki may return to make his first appearance of the year in a like-for-like swap for Dudson, but yesterday he rated the Tongan’s chances at 60-40 against a return.
Asked who may step into his place, Wane joked: “Andy Coley.”
He added: “We’re short of a few bodies, but we’ll look at them in training and see where we’re at.
“I want to take a look at Tom Spencer in the next few weeks.”
With full-back Sam Tomkins returning from a dead-leg, Wane’s most likely option would be shuffling the three-quarters and putting Jack Hughes among the forwards, and pushing Greg Burke up from second-row to prop.
He will name his 19-man squad today.
Sales for next Friday’s huge Easter derby fixture between Wigan Warriors and St Helens at the DW Stadium were nearing 18,000 last night.
Only a few tickets remained for the South Stand. Seats in the East and West stands are still available with prices starting from £20 for adults and £14 for concessions with discounts available for families.
Wigan and the DW Stadium ticket office have now made it even easier for fans to receive match tickets, by offering a new Print@Home facility, which allows fans to print their own match ticket at home when purchased via eTickets, saving fans having to queue or pay a ticket booking fee.
Alternatively, visit the DW Stadium Ticket Officer or call the Ticket Hotline on 0871 66-33-552.