Adrian Lam backs Ellery Hanley’s son Umyla to seize Wigan opportunity against St Helens
Wigan coach Adrian Lam is backing Ellery Hanley’s son Umyla to seize his opportunity if he makes his Betfred Super League debut against St Helens on Tuesday night.
The teenage full-back, who has come through the Warriors’ junior system, is one of six academy products named in a 21-man squad as Lam rests his big guns for Saturday’s Coral Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds.
There will inevitably be great expectations on the youngster’s shoulders as he prepares to following in the footsteps of his iconic father, who made over 200 appearances for Wigan from 1985-90 at the height of their glory years.
“Expectation is what you put on yourself as a player,” said Lam. “Umyla is forging his own path at the moment.
“He is a great young man, respectful and he works hard. If he gets an opportunity tomorrow, I know he will do a job for us.”
Lam is also looking forward to seeing Kai Pearce-Paul, a Bromley-born 19-year-old who was signed on a four-year contract from London Broncos last year.
“He’s 6ft 6in, 105 kilos and has a massive future ahead of him,” Lam said. “He’s a project for us who is heading nicely in the direction we want him to.”
Hanley and Pearce-Paul are among 10 changes Lam has made to the team that beat Wakefield on Friday but he will not completely show his hand until an hour before kick-off.
“They all have a chance,” he said. “Two might play or all six might play. I’ll probably name the final squad just before kick-off. There’s a little bit of cat and mouse about this. I want to make sure we go in there with a bit of uncertainty about us.
“We had to try to balance everything. I felt very strongly about having a big squad from the start of the year and you’d like to think they are all good enough to play Super League at some stage.
“You put your trust in them, regardless of whether they’re 35 or 19, we trust the systems in place to make sure everyone is up to speed.
“I’m really happy pushing the young ones. When you see them take that step up to the first team, it’s so exciting, it’s what makes my heart beat.
“There’s no bigger arch rivalry in sport so it’s going to be a big moment for them. I feel it’s a strong team we’re putting out there, we are going there to win.”
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf is determined not to be distracted as he prepares for his first derby.
Woolf can afford to play his full-strength team, having been knocked out of the Cup, but Salford and Warrington will both field makeshift line-ups when they meet on Tuesday in a dress rehearsal for Saturday’s semi-final.
The Red Devils will give debuts to former Widnes pair Tom Gilmore and Oliver Ashall-Bott following their arrival on loan.
For Wednesday’s league game against Catalans Dragons, Leeds coach Richard Agar has named eight players in his 21-man squad who are yet to play a first team game for the Rhinos, including including forward James Harrison, who has joined the club on loan from Featherstone.