Wigan coach Shaun Wane said he can’t imagine the pain that Dom Manfredi has been through over the last two years.
Manfredi played his first Super League game since August 12, 2016, on Friday night as he scored two tries to help the Warriors beat Warrington Wolves 26-6 at the DW Stadium.
The 24-year-old winger has suffered two serious knee injuries in the last two years which has sidelined him, but after a couple of appearances for the club’s reserves, Wane was pleased more than anyone to see Manfredi return to first-team action.
He said: “I can’t imagine what he’s been through, he’s had some dark days but our medical staff have worked wonders with him, I’m so pleased for him.
“What you have to understand is that these people are bred to run to whack people every week and that’s what they need and when you get that taken away from you for two years, it is a long, long time and it is very difficult. He took his tries really well and they were both typical Dom Manfredi tries. He was on the drum for our team song after the game and he did a good job out there.
“He took the ball in strong and got us wins in the first half so I’m really happy for him. It tells you something of just how important the reserves competition is. He has done a good job for the reserves.
“I just remember the dark days when he couldn’t do anything in the gym on his own, it was not good. I have never been through anything like what he has so I can’t imagine what he has been through. Every credit must go to him for coming back in the way he has.”
Wigan are now three points above third-placed Castleford Tigers in the Super 8s table and are on the cusp of confirming a home semi-final.
And with the Warriors having won their last six games, Wane is pleased with how things are going at the moment.
He added: “I’m happy to keep knocking the wins off but I’m never satisfied.
“I’m just thinking of our attack in the first half and the things we need to improve on. We need to be a bit smarter than what we were in the first half.
“It is a great dressing room at the minute and everyone is pumped. It was Sarg’s (Dan Sarginson) 100thgame as well and there is a lot of things that have gone on with Sarg over these last few weeks but Pig (Manfredi) was the main one we celebrated for tonight.”
Wane revealed Sean O’Loughlin, Joe Greenwood and Ben Flower are set to return for Wigan against Huddersfield Giants on Thursday night.
However, Willie Isa has suffered a collar bone injury which ‘doesn’t look too good’, according to Wane. Isa will be assessed further in the coming days.