Gregory puts trust in youth as Melling retains kicking duties

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The Independent Online

Chris Melling has retained his place in Wigan's line-up at Headingley tomorrow - not just as their right winger but also as their first-choice goal-kicker.

The 19-year-old made his debut as a substitute in the Super League against Salford this month and collected 24 points in his first start, against Limoux, in the Powergen Challenge Cup on Sunday.

That tally included 10 goals from 10 attempts and the Wigan coach, Mike Gregory, confirmed that Melling will keep the kicking duties for the game at Leeds, despite the likely presence in the team of experienced goal-kickers Danny Orr and Danny Tickle.

"Chris is a smart kid, an old head on young shoulders if ever there was one, and a character who will take responsibility like this in his stride," Gregory said.

Melling's all-round form means that Gregory has delayed any decision on whether to use the Orrell back, Rodd Penney, as a short-term reinforcement. Penney is still training with the Wigan squad.

Another of Wigan's young hopefuls could be required for the Leeds match, however, with Harrison Hansen being pulled out of the Academy side in case he is needed as cover for Stephen Wild, who has an ankle injury.

There are other, less serious doubts about Gareth Hock, with a knee injury, Brett Dallas, who has strained a groin, and Orr, who has been sent home ill from training.

On the brighter side, Wigan hope to have two of their long-term injury victims, Andy Farrell and Mick Cassidy, back in contention for next Friday's Challenge Cup-tie against Wakefield Trinity.

The Bradford captain, Robbie Paul, has declared himself fit to make his first appearance of the season, in the match against Huddersfield this Sunday. Paul has made just one substitute appearance - in last year's Super League Grand Final - since breaking his arm in two places last July.

Huddersfield - like Bradford, unbeaten this year - believe that their former Bulls play-maker, Brandon Costin, has a 50-50 chance of playing for the first time this season in the same match. Costin has been ruled out so far with an ankle injury.

Salford's Under-21 Senior Academy side has had four points deducted and the club has been fined £250 for twice fielding ineligible players. Salford have become the third club, after Hull and Leeds, to be penalised for using over-age players in the grading phase of the competition.