Wigan boss hails importance of reserves grade following Ryan Hampshire’s successful return

Josh McAllister
Matt Peet, SWPix.

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

Wigan boss Matt Peet has hailed the importance of the reserves grade following Ryan Hampshire’s successful return from an ACL injury.

The 28-year-old featured for the first time since last June against Wakefield in the reserves, scoring in Wigan’s 36-12 victory at Robin Park Arena.

It has led to the ex-Castleford utility being named in Peet’s 21-man squad to take on Hull this Thursday at the MKM Stadium.

Peet insists that the reserves system needs to grow, having returned to the professional game ahead of 2022 after being curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There are currently 14 teams in the reserves, with 11 Super League teams, excluding Catalans, and Bradford, Newcastle Thunder and London Broncos involved. 

“Our reserve game against Wakefield on Saturday morning was a real strong test,” Peet said. 

“They had a few first team players as well and it was a good advert for why the programme needs to grow now. 

“Iain (Thornley) and Ryan (Hampshire) come into our squad off the back of those games now. 

“I know some games were cancelled at the weekend and players, teams and coaches will be worse off because of that. Without making a thing of it, I’m just really grateful we had a game.”

Ryan Hampshire makes successful return

Hampshire made a successful return during the fixture, named in the halves alongside Kieran Tyrer, crossing for his four-pointer in the first half.

He has since been named in the 21-man squad to travel to the MKM Stadium for Wigan’s first team, having returned to his junior club ahead of 2023.

Hampshire signed on a one-year deal, with further options in the club’s favour for two more.

“He’s working very hard and has worked very hard to get himself fit,” Peet said on Hampshire.

“I’ll go back to praising the reserves system, really. If he hadn’t had that game, we wouldn’t be as confident as we are.”

It provides a selection dilemma for the Wigan head coach, with Hampshire comfortable filling it at full-back and in the halves.

Joe Shorrocks has partnered Harry Smith since the injury to Cade Cust, winning every game since.

“That’s why we brought him (Hampshire) in, versatility, depth, competition. Cade Cust isn’t too far off now and we all know it’s a squad game and Ryan will be a part of our squad straight away. 

“I don’t want to put a date to it for Cade, but he’ll be in or around that Challenge Cup fixture with Leeds.”

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