Hock in line for timely Wigan comeback after completing ban
Saturday 25 June 2011
Wigan are not the Super League side most in need of reinforcements at this stage of the season, but the return of Gareth Hock will be the equivalent of signing a new player – and a world-class one at that.
Hock has completed his two-year suspension for testing positive for cocaine and has been training with the Warriors for the last few weeks.
His coach, Michael Maguire, is confident that he is physically ready to make his comeback but has not revealed exactly how he will use him in this evening's match at home to Huddersfield.
The suspension for one match of Chris Tuson could make up Maguire's mind for him. Tuson came off the bench to play his part in the impressive win over St Helens and Hock could be a direct replacement for him.
If he does play tonight, it will be a particularly demanding fixture in which to make his comeback.
Much of Huddersfield's success this season has been built on their forward strength and they showed against the Catalan Dragons last week that they can beat formidably in-form opposition, even without Danny Brough.
In the scrum-half's continued absence, the Giants will rely on the former Wigan combination of Kevin Brown and Luke Robinson at half-back – and facing their old club often brings out the best in them.
The Wigan captain, Sean O'Loughlin, has identified Robinson as a special threat. "Luke adds a lot to the team whether he's at scrum-half or hooker," he said. "He's good around the rucks and his organisation is very good.
"Robbo's always been a good player and he's got even better in the last couple of years."
Earlier this afternoon, Hull KR can be expected to make several changes for their match at Harlequins after their woeful display against Warrington last weekend.
The New Zealand threequarter, Jake Webster, is set to return ahead of schedule after a shoulder injury that has kept him out since the end of May.
Sam Latus and the England winger, Peter Fox, are both in contention for places in the backs, while the hooker, Ben Fisher, is likely to play after also being left out last week.
Rovers' coach, Justin Morgan, was insistent this week that he will see out the remaining 18 months of his contract, but any more performances like the last one could make his position untenable.
Quins go into the match with renewed confidence after ending a 12-match run without a win by beating Wakefield last week.
Castleford go to Catalans with the 19-year-old outside back, Greg Eden, in line for his Super League debut. Richard Owen and Stuart Jones are also added to the Tigers' squad.
In the Championship, Leigh play their first game since being docked three points for breaching last season's salary cap. The deduction means they are now level with Featherstone at the top of the table, although they should move ahead again with a victory at the division's back-markers, Toulouse Olympique.
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