Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane says squad depletion for Tigers test ‘unfair’

Wigan's John Bateman will play for England on June 23, but Luke Gale is out injured
Wigan's John Bateman will play for England on June 23, but Luke Gale is out injured

Shaun Wane believes it is “crazy” for Wigan to face Castleford next weekend after discovering he will lose three players to the England side.

Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and John Bateman were on Monday named in Wayne Bennett’s squad for the ground-breaking Test against New Zealand in Denver, USA, on Saturday, June 23.

The weekend was being kept free for an international break but after the Tigers had to postpone their home match against the Warriors in March, it was rescheduled for next Friday.

That inevitably means Wane will be without the services of three of his best players, and risks losing a fourth if Thomas Leuluai is picked by New Zealand coach Michael Maguire.

To rub salt into Wigan’s wounds, Castleford have lost no players to international duty after forward Mike McMeeken was overlooked - halfback Luke Gale is sidelined through injury.

“We’ve got the risk of losing Tommy (as well), Cas’ have got nobody picked, which to me is crazy from an RFL point of view,” said Wane.

“They knew what they were doing.

“We asked them to consider it, but they have just put us at a major disadvantage.

“It’s gutting really, I find it really unfair but there’s nothing I can do about it, just get on with it.”

Wane understands why England want a mid-season Test against the Kiwis.

“I get it, I understand the reasons why they’ve done it,” he said.“I do get it, I just think we’ve done it tough.

“If I was in charge of England I’d be pushing for it, but from a club point of view I’m interested in Wigan and it’s going to hurt us, without a doubt.”

Meanwhile, Wane revealed he this week met with referee James Child - who he criticised after their 32-16 loss at Wakefield last Thursday - and said it was “eye-opening” to discover how they were policing the rucks.

“We met James and Chris Kendall, and had a really good chat,” said Wane. “We have an understanding now of how they look at things, it’s different to what we were told earlier in the year.

“It was informative. Eye-opening.

“We got told about rucks, wins and losses in pre-season, but they look at it differently now.

“I don’t know how it’s happened, but it’s a fact. They look at it a different way.”

He said they would make minor adjustments to their contacts to try and cut out the penalties. Asked if he now understood why Child awarded some of the penalties he did, Wane replied: “Absolutely.

“It was never a 7-0 penalty count (early on), never in the memory of man, but I 
make loads of mistakes every day and he made some in 80 minutes.”

Wane revealed Ben Flower and Liam Marshall are back in the frame for Saturday’s trip to Hull FC.

Taulima Tautai and Dan Sarginson didn’t train yesterday because of minor injuries but have a chance of playing, while an ankle problem will sideline Liam Farrell for two or three weeks.