Wigan came agonisingly close to a 6th Super League title last season. In 2021, they’ll be hoping to go one better. They start their journey on Sunday in a Friendly against Salford.
The Warriors have fortunately not suffered any major injuries during the off season.
However, Jackson Hastings has only just returned to the country and it’s a similar situation where Bevan French is concerned so it may not be a full-strength side on Sunday.
Fullback: Zak Hardaker
The 2015 Man of Steel played his best rugby at fullback. However, whilst at Wigan he’s moved back to centre and has been more than impressive there. He’ll again play there this season having been handed the number 3 shirt. However with French away, he’ll cover the number 1 spot for this pre-season friendly.
Wingers: Dominic Manfredi and Sam Halsall
Dominic Manfredi has had to face his fair share of injuries. However, heading into 2021 he seems injury free and ready to go for the new season. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the recovering Liam Marshall meaning youngsters Sam Halsall will be drafted in.
Centres: Jake Bibby and Willie Isa
With Hardaker at fullback and Oliver Gildart injured it leaves little room for Wigan at centre. Jake Bibby is still a superb option whilst Willie Isa is a superb player no matter where he plays and can do a job out wide.
Halves: Harry Smith and Thomas Leuluai
With Hastings only just back in the country I expect Wigan to take a similar approach to Leeds with Matt Prior and not risk him. With new recruit Jai Field injured it means Wigan will be forced to go with impressive youngster Harry Smith and the experienced Thomas Leuluai in the halves.
Props: Brad Singleton and Joe Bullock
Former Leeds man Singleton impressed last season after joining Wigan from Toronto providing vital size up front. He has been handed the number 8 jersey whilst Joe Bullock will wear the number 10 meaning the pair will likely start against Salford.
Hooker: Sam Powell
Powell is one of many exciting ball players Wigan currently have. With the absentees Wigan facing Wigan on Sunday it seems certain he’ll find his place at hooker come – a position he’ll likely play most of this season as he wears the number 9 shirt.
Second-Rows: Liam Farrell and John Bateman
Farrell had a stellar 2020 even making the Super League Dream and playing in the Grand Final. He’ll be a class act again in 2021. As will Bateman who, after taking the NRL by storm at Canberra, has returned to Wigan. He could be one of the top Super League signings this season.
Loose-Forward: Morgan Smithies
The heir to Sean O’Loughlin, Smithies will no doubt have a superb career at Wigan. 2021 will be a big year for the loose-forward as he’s tasked with truly replacing the retired O’Loughlin. With size and skill he’s the perfect loose-forward
Substitutions: Oliver Partington, Tony Clubb, Liam Byrne, Ethan Havard, Mitch Clark, Joe Shorrocks
With this being a friendly Wigan will field more than the usual four subs giving opportunities to their superb young forwards. Partington, Byrne and Havard are three of the league’s most exciting young players whilst Clubb will offer experience from the bench.