Richard Agar says he is excited to be handing debuts to two teenagers against Wigan Warriors on Sunday.
Agar revealed in his weekly press conference that both Luke Briscoe and Jordan Crowther will make Super League debuts at the home of the Champions as the Wildcats look to get off the mark in 2014.
19-year old Briscoe looks favourite to fill the centre berth left vacant by Dean Collis’ suspension with Jimmy Keinhorst still nursing a hamstring injury, with Crowther set to become the youngest ever forward to play for the club after turning 17 on February 19th.
This time last year Crowther was a member of the Wildcats Scholarship and both he and full-back Max Jowitt were fast tracked into the first team squad for 2014 this pre-season.
“He had his first driving lesson last week and he’s going to get his Super League debut at Wigan away,” said Agar of former Westgate Wolves man Crowther.
“I’m really excited by it if I’m honest. He’s a super kid and I think we’ve signed two very talented 16-year olds this year and I would envisage Max Jowitt playing first grade at some point this year as well. This has come a little bit sooner than we’d anticipated for Jordy but it’s the situation and the way some of our guys performed last week and the way he’s been performing in training.
“The progress he’s made has been outstanding. We know as a young player coming into a game like this that he’ll probably make some mistakes but we’ll wear them because longer term we think he has the potential to turn into a top line player.
“He’s fearless and being selected for this game won’t phase him one little bit.”
“Luke’s come here knowing he’s going to be a little closer to first team action. At this moment in time, I don’t think neither myself or Brian McDermott would be able to confidently answer that (his best position).
“Luke is one of those players that you can play centre, wing, stand-off, full-back or back-row and he will do a job for you. I think he’s still got some growing to do and some size to put on and longer term you’d envisage him being a back-rower of some sort. But at this moment in time we still feel he’s yet to physically reach his potential but he’ll play for us this week.”
The Wildcats travel to the DW Stadium on Sunday with the Warriors returning to the country on Monday after their World Club Challenge exploits in Australia last week.
Shaun Wane has hinted that he will rest some of his squad, but to what extent remains to be seen. Agar says whatever squad is selected, he is expecting a Wigan side showing all the traits that made them double winners in 2013.
“I’ve played them on the back of World Club Challenges before when I was at Hull and nearly got them that day. It’s a different Wigan team and I don’t know what team they’re going to pick until I see the team sheet on matchday.
“I don’t know how he (Shaun Wane) has come out of the game in terms of what impact it has had on his squad, whether he’s going to rest people or get them back on the field as soon as he can.
“What I do know is whatever seventeen names are on the list, they’ll be very fit and strong athletically, they’ll be incredibly tough and they’ll be well drilled. That’s just what we’ve come to expect from Wigan teams.
“They’ve had a turnover of players in the last couple of years and despite a lot of people writing them off, the youngsters and the more senior imports they’ve brought into the team have had a fairly seamless transition. They’re an extremely well disciplined and well structured team.”
Richard Agar is without the injured Scott Anderson (knee), Richard Moore (hamstring), Chris Annakin (knee) and Jimmy Keinhorst (hamstring). Dean Collis is serving the first of his two-match suspension.
The Wildcats 19-man squad in full is: Richard MATHERS, Peter FOX, Reece LYNE, Paul SYKES, Pita GODINET, Paul McSHANE, Andy RALEIGH, Ali LAUITIITI, Danny KIRMOND, Danny WASHBROOK, Matty WILDIE, Matty RYAN, Taulima TAUTAI, Kyle TROUT, Jarrod SAMMUT, Lucas WALSHAW, Daniel SMITH, Jordan CROWTHER, Luke BRISCOE.