Wane unleashes new halfbacks

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SHAUN Wane is “excited” at the prospect of seeing his new halfback partnership in action as he prepares to hand Blake Green a debut in Thursday’s friendly at Salford.

The Aussie stand-off – recruited from Hull KR – has been left out of the past two friendlies, as Wane has fielded young squads for the defeats at Leigh and Hull KR.

But he is planning on selecting more of his first-choice players against the Reds, including Green and Matty Smith. They have replaced the influential Brett Finch and Thomas Leuluai in Wane’s side, and the coach has been impressed with their signs in training.

He said: “Blake and Matty will be playing, and I’m excited to see them play together.

“They’ve already become good friends and they’ve linked-up well in training.

“Matty was obviously here last year so he already knew about our system, and Blake has slotted right in.”

Wane concedes there may be a small “bedding in” period as the other players get used to the new halfbacks calling the shots.

“It’s their first game together so I’m not expecting them to be the finished article straight away,” he said.

“At the end of the day, this is why we have friendlies – to build their match-fitness and work on combinations.

“But I know from the work they’ve already done just what we can expect and I’m looking forward to seeing them play and get better.”

Smith joined Wigan last July from Salford and played several games at hooker and halfback as he settled into the club.

Sean O’Loughlin and Gareth Hock will not figure in Thursday’s friendly as they recover from off-season surgery.

Full-back Sam Tomkins is also expected to be held back, but Wane has promised a competitive team. The Reds – hopeful of a takeover which will secure their future – beat lower-league Swinton 52-12 in their only friendly so far, a match which saw Martin Gleeson mark his return to rugby league following a doping ban he was handed while playing for Hull FC.