WILLIE Poching hopes one of Warrington Wolves’ incoming forwards can shine in the absence of in-form Ben Westwood tomorrow, Friday.
Joint-captain Westwood will miss the Super League Round 8 clash with Hull KR after sustaining a calf strain during the Challenge Cup win on Sunday.
With a shoulder injury also sidelining Ben Evans, props Ben Harrison and Anthony England, hooker Brad Dwyer and back rower Ben Currie make Wolves’ 19-man squad.
“Everybody understands how important Ben is to what we do and the influence he has on us; he’ll be a big loss,” said first-team coach Poching.
“He does not only do a lot of work, but a lot of quality work and he’ll still be a leader for us off the field. But it gives someone else a chance to really step up and sometimes you find little bits of gold nuggets in these situations, so hopefully this is one of those.”
Evans is likely to miss one game, but Westwood may be longer.
However, the former Leeds back rower expects the Robins to be eager to avenge Sunday’s cup exit.
“They’ll be bitterly disappointed not being in the cup anymore and they can focus all their energy and efforts at the league,” he added.
“They’ll be more than fired up. They were very good last week and what it does when you play them freshly is you get on your guard and are aware of the dangers.
“They threw a lot at us, which wasn’t a surprise as we knew they would be dangerous, but it’s about the short turnaround.
“You’ve got to freshen up and be ready to go physically and mentally because it will be even tougher this week.”
Poching is hopeful Wolves can continue to improve their all-round kicking game on Friday and is pleased with the goal-kicking efforts of Chris Bridge, who in previous seasons has suffered with tendinitis in his knee.
“It needs to go up a notch again and keep improving,” he said. “It’s not quite where we need it to be and it will improve again.
“He (Bridge) seems to be fit and healthy and really confident, he’s playing strongly and it’s a good sign of his confidence that he’s willing to do the goal kicking – he did a great job last week.
“He’s got the job at the moment, it was hard kicking at the weekend into that howling wind and he made some good judgements and a couple from wide out were really good.”
Wolves have won five of their last six outings and Poching is confident the young squad is starting to gel.
“There’s a lot of encouragement,” he explained. “Some of the younger brigade emerging as leaders are really stepping up. There’s a lot of energy and the young players’ enthusiasm is rubbing off through the squad.
“There’s a lot of experience gone, but this is a young vibrant squad that can only get better. We’re starting to really click and gel together and you get a lot of confidence out of doing that.”
Wolves 19: Roy Asotasi, Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer, Anthony England, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Trent Waterhouse, Paul Wood.
Hull KR 19: Travis Burns, Keal Carlile, Omari Caro, Ben Cockayne, Neville Costigan, Jordan Cox, Ade Gardner, James Green, Craig Hall, Josh Hodgson, Graeme Horne, Kris Keating, Kevin Larroyer, Rhys Lovegrove, Jason Netherton, Liam Salter, Adam Walker, Kris Welham, Michael Weyman.