Wakefield coach John Kear says the emergence of a crop of promising youngsters has given him a selection headache ahead of today's Super League derby with Huddersfield.
Kear is agonising over whether to recall Ireland winger Damien Blanch, who has recovered from a broken hand and proved his fitness playing for the under-20s last week. But the Wildcats' coach admits it would be unfair to drop either Aaron Murphy, 21, or Dale Morton 19, who have been outstanding during the Yorkshire club's impressive start to the season.
"Damien played very well last week," said Kear. "He showed great leadership qualities and, more importantly for me, he got 80 minutes of tough rugby league under his belt.
"When there is a quality player like that putting his hand up, you've got to seriously consider him. But it's a dilemma. If you are looking at players of the season so far, you'd have to say Aaron Murphy has been absolutely outstanding and Dale Morton hasn't been that far behind.
"It will be really tough to step someone down from the wing position but Damien is a high-quality rugby league player and his strike rate is very high."
Kear has also been impressed by the impact made by another novice, hooker James Davey, who got his chance against St Helens last week following the departure of Terry Newton.
The 20-year-old Davey made his Super League debut 12 months ago when he was an apprentice electrician but has gone full-time with the club this year and is tipped to make the grade. "I'm really pleased with James," said Kear. "After the problems we had with Terry leaving the club, everybody asked if we were going to sign another hooker. Well, James demonstrated in that 40 minutes at St Helens that he is very competent and sits easy at this level. I think he will become an established Super League player."
Huddersfield, who triumphed 54-6 at Belle Vue last season, are forced to re-shuffle their back division with the loss of captain Brett Hodgson.
Giants coach Nathan Brown admits the full-back's ankle injury is a major blow but he has every confidence in Hodgson's understudy Leroy Cudjoe.
"Leroy makes no secret of the fact he sees himself as the player to fill Brett's shoes when he calls it a day," said Brown. "Now he's got another chance to prove that to us all. He did a great job when he stood in for Brett last season."Reuse content