Martin Gleeson in fitness race for World Club Challenge

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The Independent Online

Michael Maguire will give Martin Gleeson until Saturday to prove that he is fit to play for Wigan in the World Club Challenge against St George-Illawarra the following day.

The former Great Britain centre limped off in the first half at Bradford on Sunday with a hamstring injury, but Maguire is confident that he and other players carrying bumps and bruises will be ready to face the Dragons at the DW Stadium.

Wigan’s latest Australian import, Ryan Hoffman, believes that the centres will be a crucial area in the battle for the world title.

“Mark Cooper and Mark Gasnier have been the best centre partnership in Australia for a number of years,” he said. “They are very strong defensively and everyone can see what they can do when they have the ball.

“But George Carmont and Martin Gleeson aren’t mugs either and it should be a really good match-up.”

Stuart Fielden is also confident of playing in his fourth World Club Challenge – the other three with Bradford – after coming safely through his first match since knee surgery at Odsal.

The St George-Illawarra coach, Wayne Bennett, is being linked with a return to his former club, the Brisbane Broncos, following the sacking of Ivan Henjak on the eve of the new NRL season.

The Broncos have appointed his assistant, Anthony Griffin, as his replacement, but that could be a holding operation for the return of Bennett next year to the club he made Australia’s strongest.

Bennett has already led the Dragons to believe that he will not be with them next year and he has been widely linked with a move to South Sydney.

Bennett was not keen to discuss his coaching future yesterday, preferring to concentrate on an event he was always advocated.

“I’ve always been a fan of the World Club Challenge,” he said. “I’ve always been in favour of it and I’m pleased to bring the great St George-Illawarra club here to play.”

Those sentiments come after what have been described as difficult negotiations between the club and the RFL before the fixture was confirmed.

Most of the Wigan side that won the first WCC, against Manly in 1987, will be in a parade at the DW Stadium before Sunday’s match.

Hull KR’s Jake Webster and Julian Rinaldi of Wakefield both face charges of making dangerous contact following incidents in their weekend matches.