Shaun Wane has confirmed Pat Richards will play for Wigan Warriors just hours after returning from Australia in tomorrow’s home Super League clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Wigan are looking to stay top of the table after two wins over Easter, while Wakefield need the league points on offer to keep pace with other teams chasing a place in the play-off spots.
Despite the 24,000-mile round-trip for Richards, who was the best man at his brother’s wedding near Sydney, Warriors coach Wane wouldn’t be without Super League’s leading points scorer.
“He’ll be back on Sunday morning. It’s not ideal but I wasn’t going to stop that happening,” said Wane.
“As long as he didn’t miss a game I was happy with it so I told him I wanted him playing.
“He’s done well for me this year. His form has been the best I‘ve known it. I’ll repay him and support him but I need him to turn up and I need a good performance.”
Richards’ inclusion allows the 2006 NRL Grand Final winner to pursue more scoring records for Wigan, with the winger needing just four goals to move fourth in the club’s all-time goal kicking records, swapping places with Colin Tyrer.
And Wane revealed how Wigan’s director of performance, Mark Bitcon, has taken step to ensure Richards remains in peak condition.
Wane said: “He has protocols for when he is over there. He has been told how to look after his diet and how he hydrates himself – it’s not a boozy wedding. I want him back in good nick.
“He’s also staying on English time so when his family get up, he’ll be going to bed. It won’t be a great trip for him but that’s his choice.”
Opposite wingman Josh Charnley joins Wigan’s injury list after receiving stitches to an ankle cut in last week’s win at Hull Kingston Rovers whilst captain Sean O’Loughlin remains out with a back injury.
But Wane revealed a clutch of long-term absentees are nearing match fitness.
“Whoever I play will do the same job,” Wane added.
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