SHAUN Wane has challenged Dom Manfredi to nail down a permanent wing spot over the next month.
The 21-year-old has a huge task on his hands tomorrow night in a head-to-head duel with England’s Ryan Hall – the player dubbed the ‘World’s Best Winger’.
He’s very difficult to handle, he runs like a front-rower and hurts people when he brings the ball inShaun Wane
But Wane believes Manfredi has the ability to establish himself as a Super League star in his own right, and says a good run in the side can keep Josh Charnley out of the squad when he returns from a leg injury.
The coach said: “I want Dom to treat it mentally as if he’s a starting winger, and when Josh is fit it’s his job to get back in.
“Dom knows he has the chance, he has the potential and, if he impresses, Josh is genuinely under the pump.
“I want to see how he goes with multiple games under the belt, and keep turning up with the performances.”
Longer-term, Manfredi has a chance to show Wane that he doesn’t need to recruit a new winger when Joe Burgess departs for the NRL at the end of the year.
The Leigh-born flyer scored 11 tries in 14 appearances last year, and Wane knows first-hand just how strong he is.
“I wrestle with him – and he wins,” said Wane. “He’s very difficult to handle, he runs like a front-rower and hurts people when he brings the ball in.”
Meanwhile, Wane hopes the onset of spring brings some life to the DW Stadium pitch. The surface will be replaced in May but Warriors have six home games before then.
“I’ve walked on it, and it’s dead,” he said. “I can understand why there were times in the game against Hull when it looked like slow motion, and that’s the reason – there’s nothing in it.
“It was the same for Hull as it was for us, I know the ground-staff are trying their best and it’s the way it is, but I’m hoping once we get a dry track it will suit us.”
Zak Hardaker has been included in Leeds Rhinos’ 19-man squad to face Wigan after being cleared to play following a police investigation into him assaulting a student.
Wigan Warriors 19-man squad:
(Alphabetical order) Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Clubb, C Farrell, L Farrell, Gelling, Greenwood, Hampshire, Manfredi, McIlorum, Mossop, Patrick, Sarginson, Smith, Tautai, J Tomkins, L Tomkins, Williams
Leeds Rhinos 19-man squad
Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Cuthbertson, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Yates, Golding