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Bans and injuries mean Wigan Warriors and St Helens forced into hooker crisis

St Helens Wigan Warriors O'Neill Mbye

The Super League disciplinary news that was announced today has created a huge dilemma for both Wigan Warriors and St Helens with the presumed starting hookers both being handed bans.

With Daryl Clark out injured and both Lewis Dodd and Jonny Lomax fit, Moses Mbye was Saints’ designated hooker on Friday night in their defeat to Castleford Tigers, however, he’s copped a Grade B charge that carries a one-game ban meaning he’s set to miss the derby on Friday night.

As for Wigan Warriors, Brad O’Neill was sent to the sin bin in their victory over Leigh Leopards and the Match Review Panel has also found him worthy of a Grade B charge for a ‘Dangerous Throw/Lift’, meaning he too has earned a one-game ban.

Of course, both teams could appeal with the deadline for that decision being midday tomorrow, but if they don’t appeal then it will mean that each side could be without an experienced number nine for Friday night.

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What will Wigan Warriors and St Helens do at hooker?

Daryl Clark Brad O'Neill St Helens Wigan Warriors

Credit: Imago Images

That’s because Wigan Warriors are all out of options with back-up hooker Kruise Leeming confirmed as being sidelined for several weeks, whilst youngster Tom Forber is also out with an ankle injury.

Matt Peet confirmed that just over three weeks ago with the 21-year-old suffering an ankle sprain whilst out on loan per Wigan Today, meaning that currently, Wigan Warriors are without a recognised hooker for the clash on Friday.

Their best solution might well be centre Adam Keighran who played as a utility in the NRL and is adept throughout the spine, although he has only made two starts at hooker in the NRL, and they did come in 2021. Unfortunately, for Matt Peet, that could be his only option unless he shuffles the deck even more.

Credit: Imago Images

As for their opponents St Helens, Daryl Clark missed Friday’s defeat to Castleford Tigers with a muscle tear and there is no guarantee that he will be back for the game against Wigan. Rushing him back to cover Mbye could potentially serve to make the injury worse meaning that Paul Wellens might have to make a gameday decision.

St Helens do have a third-choice hooker that is fit and available in Jake Burns, however, the 24-year-old is yet to start a Super League game and has played most of his rugby on dual registration with Swinton Lions. He only actually made his debut from the bench in Friday night’s loss.

Handing a debut start to Burns could be Wellens’ only option though but he critiqued his senior players for “letting down” debutants Burns and Jonny Vaughan.

Speaking on the privilege of pulling on a Saints jersey, he said: “Every time you get the chance to pull on this jersey, it’s a privilege and you’ve got to play as though it is. We have too many at the moment who don’t seem to do that.

“Two young kids, you’re never going to lack energy on your debut are you? They were probably let down by a lot of their teammates tonight.”

Of course, both sides could try and race each other to secure a loan move for a hooker but with so few available on the market right now, it’s not likely.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Eric T Cat

    July 8, 2024 at 8:20 pm

    Hardly an earth shattering crisis, it’s not like they do anything in the scrum, the hooker role is focused around the play the ball and tackling. They just need someone to do the hard work at the play the ball, and someone daft enough to go in the scrum. For Wigan young lad Farramond looks good in and around the ruck, they’ve choices in their forwards to make up a pack. I’m sure St Helens are equalky packed out with replacements.

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