Hanley could ease Lam’s fullback headache

Coach Adrian Lam could turn to a famous Wigan name to deal with a problem posed by Zak Hardaker’s red card against Catalans Dragons.

Umyla Hanley, the 19-year-old son of club and Great Britain legend Ellery, could be the pick to play fullback as Hardaker serves a two-match suspension after his dismissal for a headbutt on Sam Tomkins late in the 48-0 drubbing in France.

The 29-year-old is set to miss the trip to Huddersfield on Friday and the club’s first home match in front of fans since March 2020 against Hull KR seven days later.

Wigan are the last of the twelve Super League teams to have a home game since spectators returned to grounds as coronavirus restrictions were eased last month.

Hardaker’s ban is a big blow for Lam, whose side lost the leadership as a result of the defeat in Perpignan – their first in the league this year.

Australian ace Bevan French, who was the fullback in last season’s Dream Team, and compatriot Jai Field, who can also play there, are both sidelined by hamstring injuries.

Hanley’s handful of appearances this year have been on the wing, but fullback is the preferred position of the Shevington Sharks product who has come through the Wigan Scholarship and Academy ranks.

That’s where the former England Under 16 and Under 18 international played on his first-team debut against Salford last season.

Wigan are reportedly tracking Leigh prop Nathan Mason as they look to replace Joe Bullock, who will join Warrington next season.

Oldham-born 27-year-old Mason started at Huddersfield before a move to London Broncos for their 2019 Super League campaign. He joined Leigh ahead of last season.

Wigan are also being linked with two former players – Leigh winger or centre Iain Thornley and halfback George Williams, who has left Canberra.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.