Shaun Wane has the perfect incentive to motivate his fringe players as the new season approaches – seats on the plane to Australia.
The Warriors are playing two games Down Under in February.
They face Hull FC in Wollongong – the first Super League game to be staged outside of Europe – on February 10, with an exhibition game against South Sydney the week later. Wane took his full first-team squad to Sydney when they travelled Down Under for the 2014 World Club Challenge.
This time, the squad is limited to 25 – and Wane admits there are a dozen spots up for grabs.
With a near-fully fit senior squad to pick from – Dom Manfredi is the only player sidelined by injury – he is waving the proverbial carrot.
“It’s going to be a great trip and there are quite few places up for grabs,” said Wane. “There are only 13 or 14 I do know are guaranteed to be going.
“The rest are up for grabs.”
The players will head Down Under following their opening Super League, against Salford on February 2 – just four weeks away.
Between then, there is a friendly against Leigh (January 21), while fringe players may also be involved in warm-ups with London Skolars and Swinton.
Wane says the players don’t have to wait until the matches to catch his eye.
“It’s about who impressed at the training camp in Wales, over Christmas, the rest of pre-season,” he said. “We video our training sessions and I watch them back when I get home and look at the (GPS) data, and some of the young kids have done really well.”
Senior forward Joel Tomkins admits the prospect of getting onto the trip Down Under has had an impact.
“Waney has already put it out there that there are 25 places, and players who are on the fringes of the squad, it’s made it a bit more competitive in the pre-season,” he said.