Wigan coach Shaun Wane has insisted he is not worried that some his star players may be about to put themselves in the shop window this weekend.
The Warriors host Hull FC in Wollongong on Saturday in the first-ever Super League game to be played outside Europe – and with the likes of John Bateman and George Williams long linked with a move to the NRL in the future, it has been suggested a strong performance this weekend may only increase the chances of that happening.
Wane, however, has stressed that doesn’t worry him at all: saying the Warriors will not stand in the way of any player wishing to test themselves in the NRL.
He said: “It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. When Sam Tomkins went to New Zealand Warriors, I got it. If someone leaves us, well make another one.
“We’ve got an unbelievable youth set-up and I have every faith in it, just like I did when Blake Green left and I put George Williams in. If someone leaves, we work hard on creating the next star. I never get stressed about people wanting to look at my players; I’ll do my best to keep them but if it’s impossible, we crack on.”
Wane also admitted he would like to see more games being taken on-the-road in the coming years to help grow the British game.
He said: “I could imagine it being a success somewhere neutral. I honestly believe we’ve got the best game in the world and we undersell it at times, and once you see our sport you’re taken in by it because of its physicality and the athletes who play it. As long as we market it correctly, it’ll take off anywhere.”
Wane has also been handed a significant boost ahead of Saturday’s game, with the news that two of his injured stars will return for the clash against Hull.
Joe Burgess and captain Sean O’Loughlin missed last week’s win over Salford – but they will be fit. John Bateman, however, will not play: though he should feature against South Sydney next weekend.
Wane said: “John Bateman will play against South Sydney, but Budgie is fit and so is Lockers. They’ve both trained today, and I’ve got a full squad to pick from. I’m happy. I’ve got three good wingers now, I’ll pick the two who I think are the best to play and another middle is going to have to miss out with Lockers coming back.”