Wild takes centre role for opener at Bradford

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Injury-hit Wigan will start for the first time with Stephen Wild at centre in the repeat of last season's Super League Grand Final against Bradford Bulls.

Wigan are without four key players for Friday night's season opener, including David Hodgson, who has ruptured his Achilles tendon. Wild, who is normally a back-row forward, has been drafted in to take his place.

"I've probably gone for size, especially in view of who we're playing against," the Wigan coach, Mike Gregory, said.

Wild, 22, played at centre as an amateur, but he represents something of a risk for the game at Odsal Stadium, against opposition buoyed up by being crowned world champions a week earlier.

Gregory has also named Quentin Pongia in his front row, even though the New Zealand prop had to pull out of training with back trouble yesterday.

The Bulls look likely to be without their new Kiwi loose forward, Logan Swann. He damaged ligaments in his knee in the victory over Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge and will have a scan to assess the extent of the injury tomorrow.

Bradford have said they will not attend the meeting of Super League clubs today and tomorrow which will discuss the possibility of reducing the competition's salary cap, a measure which the Bulls are strongly opposed to.

The Widnes winger Paul Devlin could be out for six months after being told that he needs major knee surgery.

Andy Hay has been appointed the club's new captain following the transfer of Ryan Sheridan to Castleford and the retirement of Stuart Spruce. The Australian stand-off Jules O'Neill, who led Widnes in the World Sevens in Sydney last month, has not been asked to continue in the role.

Andy Fisher, who resigned as the coach at Dewsbury last week following their Challenge Cup defeat by the amateurs Sharlston, has joined Doncaster as a player.

"I need some steel in the pack and Andy will be just the man to help the young lads," the Doncaster coach, St John Ellis, said of the 34-year-old prop.

The Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge at Richmond on 3 March is to be screened live on Sky television for the first time.