Wigan Warriors v Penrith Panthers early squad news: Kruise Leeming, Jack Cole to play

Drew Darbyshire
Matt Peet Wigan Warriors Ivan Cleary Penrith Panthers

Wigan coach Matt Peet (left) and Penrith boss Ivan Cleary (right)

Love Rugby League attended the World Club Challenge press conference, with early squad news emerging from the DW Stadium.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s sold-out showdown, Wigan Warriors coach Matt Peet confirmed that experienced hooker Kruise Leeming will feature in the game, although they will be without prop Luke Thompson due to him failing a head injury assessment in last Saturday’s 32-4 win at Castleford.

Leeming, 28, made a try scoring debut in Wigan’s opening round victory over the Tigers but left the Mend-A-Hose Jungle wearing a protective boot after taking a knock to his ankle. But speaking to the media, Peet confirmed that Leeming will be good to face NRL champions Penrith Panthers on Saturday night.

“He’ll play,” Peet said when asked about Leeming. “His ankle is sore but he’ll be alright. Players at these kind of clubs want to play in big games so there’s no surprises.

“Other than Thomo (Luke Thompson) we’re all good, it will be the same squad basically.”

Peet went on to confirm that it will be academy product Harvie Hill who takes the place of Thompson in Saturday’s matchday squad.

Hill, who hails from Cumbria, has made 15 appearances for the Warriors since making his first team debut in 2022.

“We think a lot of him,” Peet said of Hill, who is set to play in the biggest game of his career to date.

“People have noticed the front-rowers we recruited in the off-season and with the way things have turned out we’ve turned to one of our homegrown lads which is brilliant, so it’s an exciting opportunity for him.

“It’s sad for Luke and sad for Sam Walters but it’s good to see the next one off the rank.”

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Jack Cole to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves for Penrith Panthers

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary confirmed that promising youngster Jack Cole will partner Nathan Cleary in the halves in the absence of the injured Jarome Luai this weekend.

“Jack Cole is going to play,” Cleary told the press. “He’s a young player who has come through our pathways.

“He had one NRL game a couple of years ago late in the year but he’s come through our junior grades showing plenty of promise and has had a great pre-season and he gets his opportunity on just about the biggest stage so I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes, I’m sure he’ll do well.”

Super League champions Wigan take on their NRL counterparts Penrith in the World Club Challenge at a sold-out DW Stadium on Saturday night, 8pm kick-off, live on the BBC and Sky Sports.

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