Shaun Wane has said that he is "under pressure", after just one Super League defeat as Wigan coach
After last Sunday's loss to a below-strength Huddersfield, Wane said that "five or six" players had fallen short of the standards he expects and hinted at changes for this evening's visit from Leeds, but his room for manoeuvre is limited. Liam Farrell, one of his best forwards as a substitute against the Giants and in line for a starting place tonight, has accepted a one-game ban for making dangerous contact, under the Rugby League's new "plea bargaining" mechanism. On top of that, the centre George Carmont has broken his thumb and will be out for at least a month.
In selecting their replacements, Wane has been true to his promise to give youth its chance. In for Carmont comes 20-year-old Jack Hughes, who is preferred to an import from New Zealand, Anthony Gelling. Hughes is primarily a second-rower but he shone in the centres in pre-season.
With Stuart Fielden and Paul Prescott out as well as Farrell, the 21-year-old prop Tom Spencer is in line to make his debut off the bench. Spencer is a product of the famed nursery at Wigan St Patricks. "Tom has done well in the pre-season," Wane said yesterday. "He has earned his chance with a lot of hard work."
Leeds are likely to field the side that accounted for Hull KR in their first game in defence of their Super League title. Jamie Jones-Buchanan has been included, even though he has been unable to train for most of the week.
In today's other match, Hull go to Perpignan to play the Catalan Dragons, who were so impressive at Bradford last week. Both sides are without their biggest close-season signings, the Catalans' Leon Pryce and Brett Seymour of Hull. Two other new arrivals, Aaron Heremaia and Eamonn O'Carroll, are missing from the Hull line-up through injury. The Dragons also have other absentees, but Jean-Phillipe Baile is fit to return.
The RFL is hopeful all Super League fixtures will be played, even though three of tomorrow's games are scheduled for the eastern side of the country, which has been worst affected by the weather. The first round of the Northern Rail Cup could be severely depleted. The games at York and London Skolars were called off yesterday.
The Australian champions, Manly, fly in today to prepare for the World Club Challenge against Leeds on Friday.
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