Wigan hooker Sam Powell will miss the Challenge Cup final due to suspension, but he has proven to be brilliant mentor for his understudy Brad O’Neill.
But Powell’s time out has given chance for O’Neill to shine, and he hasn’t taken a backwards step since being given a shot in the first team by coach Matt Peet.
“Pow has been fantastic with me – both learning on the field and off with the baby life,” O’Neill said.
“Pow is a credit to himself and the club with the way he’s been. He has always got a smile on his face, he trains hard and he has been like a type of player-coach to everyone. He wants everyone to get better, he’s not sulking and he is just getting on with it.
“Pow has been massive for me. He has mostly been great for me in the changing rooms leading up to games. He helps with my nerves and just at half-time he checks in with me. If I need to do more of this or that, then Pow just talks to me. He is like a personal coach for me, he has been great.”
Brad O’Neill grateful for Widnes loan stint
The 19-year-old was always destined to be a professional rugby league player. His grandad Terry Snr played for Leigh and his dad played Terry Jnr played for Rochdale.
Before becoming a regular at Wigan this season, O’Neill enjoyed a loan stint at Widnes in the Championship last season as well as playing for Newcastle Thunder on dual-registration.
It was at the Vikings where he said he went from being a boy into a man.
He said: “My stint at Widnes last year really took me to the next level in terms of physicality.
“Widnes are a great club and developed me quite a lot last year. I played with some great players at Widnes like Matty Smith, Danny Craven and Jack Owens. They really helped me in my development.”