O’Loughlin praises Wigan’s strength in depth

Sean O’Loughlin says the amount of positional changes Wigan can make to their squad can only be a good thing.

The Warriors released their squad numbers last week and there are a couple of surprises. Sam Powell has been given the number seven shirt while Tommy Leuluai will wear the number nine. George Williams and Sam Tomkins have kept their number six and one jerseys respectively.

But Wigan have plenty of options outside of their 17, including full-back Morgan Escare, half-back Jake Shorrocks and hooker Josh Ganson.

And O’Loughlin believes that the competition for places gives head coach Shaun Wane a healthy selection headache.

He told loverugbyleague.com: “There are some variations there but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

“If you have got quality players then you find roles for them and if that means tinkering with the side a bit and finding out what the best combos are then I think we’ll do that.

“There are quite a lot of variations like switching full-backs to halves and halves to full-backs and halves into nine.

“Lads like Jake (Shorrocks) and Pow (Sam Powell) can cover a few roles so it might be a matter of whoever is on the bench can come on and change a few people and positions around and see how it goes. There is a lot of competition this year and Jake has been unlucky in the past couple of years and has been injured so I think if he gets a good run then he could stake his claim as well.

“I don’t know what Waney’s (Shaun Wane) first choice team would be at the minute but from my point of view, there are still a few jerseys up for grabs.”

Under-19s stars Josh Woods, Samy Kibula, Liam Paisley, Ollie Partington, Craig Mullen, Caine Barnes and James Worthington all signed professional contracts with Wigan in the off-season.

And O’Loughlin, who is an assistant coach for Wigan’s Under-19s side, believes a couple of them have the potential to make their debut this year.

He added: “Seeing them boys come up and impress in the first team is good to see.

“There are a lot of lads in our squad who have come through our system and have really kicked on – look at Tom Davies, he has established himself as a starter now.

“Out of the young boys, I would like to see Samy Kibula get a game this year, he brings a big body, good skill and something a little bit different. He could impress if he gets a chance.

“I think quite a few of the boys could get a chance though and some will probably play in the friendlies. They aren’t going to come in and kill it straight away, obviously, but if they get a game or two under their belt, that’s when you see them progress and get that confidence of being in the first team.”

Wigan face dual-registration partners Swinton Lions at Heywood Road on Sunday, 3pm kick-off, in their final pre-season friendly.

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