FOUR try winger Joe Burgess has forced his way into Wigan’s World Club Challenge team – and fellow greehorn Sam Powell will almost certainly join him in coach Shaun Wane’s 17.
Wigan did their best to sell the few remaining tickets for the title bout with Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday week by scoring 30 unanswered second half points in a 46-22 belting of a badly understrength New Zealand Warriors at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium.
Burgess – no relation to the South Sydney foursome – only got a start in the season opener against Huddersfield because of an injury to Josh Charnley but held his spot alongside the England star last night because of an eye-catching display.
Coach Shaun Wane said the 19-year-old had now virtually assured himself of taking on the Roosters. Powell, 21, was included last night mainly for experience but finished with 10 points in an assured display.
“He’ll probably be in the 17,” Wane added. “He went well today, I like him, he’s a good chance.”
Of local junior Burgess, he said: “It doesn’t matter to me how old he is. If he can do a job and handle a big game and I’m confident in him, I’ll play him. I’m pretty ruthless, I’m not worried who’s done well in the past.
“I’m really pleased Joe Burgess put his hand up. All the senior players are raving about him and I won’t have any qualms about puting him in.”
Wigan led 12-0 early, fell behind 22-16 by halftime in front of a modest midweek crowd – and then exploded in the second half with six tries. Burgess, a local Wigan junior who saw Pat Richards’ departure as an opportunity this season, completed his haul with a couple of minutes left.
But Warriors coach Matthew Elliott suggested the performance of the Super League and Challenge Cup holders did not indicate to him that they could rattle the club where he was formerly an assistant.
“That’s a hard one for me to comment on,” he said.
“If we had the 16 – actually there’s 18 guys who are fulltime players who aren’t playing – I would have been reasonably confident that the result would have been dramatically different.
“We knew when this match was scheduled … you’ve got to push your ego aside a little bit. We had to make a decision whether our focus was winning or giving everyone an opportunity.”
Feleti Mateo and Nathan Friend were late inclusions for a Warriors side including semi-professionals from local competitions. For Wigan, Matt Bowen was rested after halftime. O’Loughlin and Green would definitely play in Sydney, Wane said.
WIGAN 46 (J Burgess 4 J Hughes D Goulding G Dudson D Manfredi S Powell tries S Powell 3 M Smith 2 goals) beat WARRIORS 22 (C Townsend A Tuimavave-Gerrard N Peteru N Friend tries C Townsend 3 goals) at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton. Referees: B Cummins/G Sutton. Crowd: about 6000.
Final team lists:
Final team lists:WARRIORS: Jerome Ropati; Malo Solomona, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Agnatius Paasi, Jarrod Wilson; Chad Townsend, Steve Waetford; John Palavi, Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira (c), Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman. Res: Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Jordan Baldwinson, Nathan Peteru, Paulos Latu, Jarrod Tua, Josh Tamaseu-Russell, Mason Tonks, David Bhana, Patrick Sipley, CSilva Havili, Jono Carl, Michael Sio, Mason Lino.
WIGAN: Matt Bowen; Joe Burgess, Darrell Goulding, Dan Sarginson, Josh Charnley; Sam Powell, Matty Smith; Tony Clubb, Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes, Gil Dudson, Michael McIlormum, Scott Taylor. Res: Dom Manfredi, Anthony Gelling, George Williams, Greg Burke, Eddy Pettybourne, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby, John Bateman, Ben Flower, Ryan Hampshire.
Referees: Ben Cummins/Geraerd Sutton