We look at what is being said and team news ahead of Wednesday’s live Super League match between Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors…
Williams faces wait for Wolves bow
When George Williams’ signing for Warrington was confirmed, there was some suggestion he could make his debut for the club in the match against former club Wigan.
But the England international half-back will instead be watching from the sidelines on Wednesday evening after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the squad forced the Wolves’ last two fixtures to be postponed and their training ground to be closed for around a week.
Warrington Wolves vs Wigan Warriors
July 28, 2021, 7:30pm
Williams will instead be given further time to get up to full fitness after two months out of action following his release by Canberra Raiders, with Warrington head coach Steve Price not willing to rush the 26-year-old into action.
“George won’t come into consideration,” Price, who does expect Williams to be available for Sunday’s clash with Leeds Rhinos, said. “He’s still got a bit more work to do.
“The shutdown has played its part. It’s important when we put people on the pitch, they’re fit, and they can sustain a level of performance which is acceptable at our club.
“He hasn’t really done too much since he arrived. He’s got a few more boxes to tick.”
Those Covid issues mean Price has been able to do little training with the rest of the squad recently either, although he is in no doubt they are in the right frame of mind as they aim to rebound from a 22-16 defeat to Leeds last time out.
“It is what it is,” Price said. “The boys are excited for Wednesday. We played enough football in the first part of the season to understand what we stand for.”
Hastings’ enthusiasm a tonic for Lam
The injury problems which have dogged Wigan so far this season have started to ease in recent weeks, with several of the Warriors’ big names starting to return to action.
That means those players who have been having to line up outside of their regular positions can go back to doing what they do best, although Bevan French being ruled out for the rest of the season and Zak Hardaker currently being sidelined with a neck injury means full-back remains an issue.
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Jackson Hastings, who has previously featured at hooker as well as his regular position in the halves for Wigan at times, has been adapting to the No. 1 role in recent weeks though and put in an impressive display to help his side to a 25-12 victory over Wakefield Trinity last week.
Head coach Adrian Lam is delighted with how the 25-year-old has enthusiastically embraced this new position, even though he knows it will be a stiff test for him against the kicking of Blake Austin and Stefan Ratchford when they face Warrington.
“He’s like a teenage kid with a rugby ball in the back yard,” Lam said of Hastings. “He just wants to play rugby and when he’s involved, whether it’s with training or on the field or in the gym, he’s got that youthfulness about him and he loves it.
“He’s certainly played for us in a couple of positions over the last couple of years and done a really good job for us – you could probably stick him in as striker for Manchester City and he’d have a go.
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“Full-back has taken him a couple of weeks to get used to and we’ve had to persist with that. Obviously we’ve had other options there with a couple of the young one, but we knew it was going to take him a couple of weeks to slip into that position and he played probably the best he has done so far last week setting up four tries.
“That’s exactly what we need and because of that we scored some points, for a change. It’ll be a different beast this week up against a defensive opposition, so we’ve got to make sure tactically we are on it.”
Warrington are still without scrum-half Gareth Widdop and winger Josh Charnley has been left out of Price’s 20-man squad for unspecified reasons, but the coach is hoping to make an addition before kick-off.
Wigan are set to welcome back England second row John Bateman, along with prop Liam Byrne, as the club’s lengthy injury list begins to ease.
Warrington Wolves: Sitaleki Akauola, Blake Austin, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Matt Davis, Eribe Doro, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Ellis Longstaff, Jake Mamo, Robbie Mulhern, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker, Connor Wrench.
Wigan Warriors: Oliver Gildart, Liam Farrell, Tommy Leuluai, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Joe Bullock, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Oliver Partington, Tony Clubb, Liam Byrne, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Jake Bibby, Mitch Clark, Joe Shorrocks, Kai Pearce-Paul, Sam Halsall, Jackson Hastings, Amir Bourouh.
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