Wigan’s veteran half-back Tommy Leuluai has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring tear, raising fears he may have played his last match.
The 36-year-old former New Zealand international, who is in his second spell with the Warriors, signed a new 12-month contract at the end of the 2020 season as he contemplated retirement.
Leuluai has been promised a place on the club’s backroom team when he hangs up his boots and must now decide whether to follow former captain Sean O’Loughlin into the coaching ranks in 2022.
“That’s a decision he would need to make,” said coach Adrian Lam. “He was playing some pretty good rugby before his injury.
“It’s a severe tear and it takes him past the Grand Final final date by a week.
“It’s a massive blow in terms of his importance and the role he plays for the club.
“He’s our greatest leader here and a really popular member of the group. We’re a different group when he’s not there.
“We will have to share that leadership around and Harry Smith will now have to take the last two months of rugby under his belt and step forward with it.
“The club are shattered but we have to get on with it. It’s another blow to us, another key spine player we’ve lost, but we’re used to it. We can’t dwell on it.
“He’s going to be working hard on his rehab and we will use him in some capacity. He will still be here with me in the dressing room.”
Wigan also have a major doubt over hooker Sam Powell for Friday’s derby with St Helens after he sustained a head knock in the defeat at Hull KR.
But second-rower John Bateman is set to return after sitting out the last match through illness and prop Oliver Partington will be back from suspension.