‘No room for error’ in Wigan Warriors’ bolstered pack as champions start as Super League favourites for two in a row

James Gordon
Tyler Dupree Wigan Warriors Alamy

Tyler Dupree in action for Wigan Warriors in 2023 - Alamy

Wigan’s impressive recruitment has them as Super League favourites to make it back-to-back titles in 2024.

Their pack is oozing quality and competition for places, with break-out England forward Tyler Dupree a shrewd mid-season addition from Salford last season.

He has been joined this off-season by former St Helens front-rower Luke Thompson, following a four-year stint in the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs.

Another man heading to Wigan via the NRL is ex-Leeds hooker Kruise Leeming, who played 10 games for Gold Coast Titans last year.

Highly-rated youngsters Tiaki Chan and Sam Eseh have arrived from Catalans and Wakefield to beef up the front-row.

But it’s perhaps the signing of towering forward Sam Walters from Leeds that has most caught the eye, the 23-year-old firmly on an upward trajectory to being a Super League star.

READ MORE: How Wigan Warriors shape up for 2024, with six new recruits among 29 in Matt Peet’s squad

Competition for places motivating Wigan stars

They join the likes of six-time Super League Dream Team member Liam Farrell, Kaide Ellis and Mike Cooper in a stacked Wigan pack going in to the new campaign, as well as the inevitable prospects coming via the famed Wigan production line underneath the first team.

The strength of Wigan’s pack is not lost on those within it, where competition for places will be fierce.

Dupree told Wigan Today: “I feel like I was finding myself last year and that I was good enough to play at this level.

“I don’t think I’ve gotten the best out of myself yet and hopefully pre-season will up that a little bit more and hopefully next season I’ll be an even better player.

“The competition will also push me as there’s no room for error.

“I think as soon as you mess up, you could be replaced.

“There’s also new people that I can learn from as well. Luke Thompson has done it, he’s been to the NRL and he’s played internationally.

“Then there’s the young lads as well like Tiaki Chan and Sam Eseh, who, even though they’re not as experienced, they still bring a little bit of something and I like to take every day as a lesson.”

Dupree is yet to taste defeat in a Wigan shirt, making nine appearances culminating in the Grand Final victory over Catalans.

His form at Salford earned him an England call-up after he had taken the long road back to Super League via spells at Oldham and Widnes following rejection by Leeds.

Strength in numbers in Wigan squad list

Despite his rising stock, the quality available to Matt Peet means Dupree was only afforded the number 19 in Wigan’s 2024 squad number announcement recently.

Ethan Havard (8) and Liam Byrne (10) received the starting prop numbers, with Willie Isa (11), Farrell (12) and Mike Cooper (14) retaining their numbers from last season.

Brad O’Neill is promoted to number nine following the departure of Sam Powell, with Leeming taking 17.

New signings Thompson (16), Walters (22), Chan (24) and Eseh (25) will be competing to make their Wigan debuts in their Super League opener away at Castleford on February 17.

Patrick Mago (15) is still in the mix, as are academy products Harvie Hill (20) and Junior Nsemba (21).

Wigan are 2/1 favourites to win Super League 2024 with competition sponsors Betfred, ahead of St Helens (3/1) and Leeds (15/2).

READ NEXT: RL Commercial chief ‘blown away’ by World Club Challenge ticket sales, hints at taking spectacle overseas in 2025