Wigan Warriors 46 Hull KR 4: Rovers' injury crisis worsens as Super League sleepwalks into player welfare storm

One month from now, Super League clubs will be getting ready to play their second game of a double-header weekend.

Will Tate appears dejected as Wigan Warriors celebrate Bevan French's opening try. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Will Tate appears dejected as Wigan Warriors celebrate Bevan French's opening try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Based on recent evidence, some coaches will struggle to field a team without leaning heavily on academy players.

On the penultimate weekend when the stakes are at their highest, it has the makings of a calamity for Super League.

Beyond the immediate damage to players and clubs striving for precious points, the poorly planned schedule is likely to hurt the quality of the play-offs and perhaps even England's World Cup chances.

Bevan French scores Wigan Warriors' fourth try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Hull KR have yet to recover from the first double-header weekend over Easter - and they are far from alone in their injury struggles in the closing stages of a condensed campaign.

Tony Smith - Super League's most experienced coach - could not find the answers after seeing the Robins' form fall off a cliff as they grappled with injuries and fatigue.

Those injury issues have not eased under Danny McGuire, even if their form has picked up.

Without an eye-watering 16 first-team players, Rovers were in damage limitation mode before the first whistle had even sounded at the DW Stadium.

The outcome was as predictable as it was unwatchable for Hull KR supporters and neutrals alike with Wigan Warriors duly putting the youthful visitors to the sword.

If KR's main objective was to come through the evening unscathed, they were unsuccessful with Will Dagger, Lachlan Coote, Connor Moore and Charlie Cavanaugh all joining the ludicrously long casualty list.

Rovers recovered from a shaky opening quarter to challenge Matt Peet's second-placed side physically but the damage had already been done.

Four of Wigan's nine tries came in an early blitz and the hosts finished with a flourish to complete a thumping win.

For fans already being served up a watered-down version of Super League with most clubs down to the bare bones, it was not much of a spectacle.

While it was largely a night to forget for the Robins, it was an invaluable experience for the youngsters in McGuire's side.

McGuire fielded two debutants in Cavanaugh and Moore, while fellow teenagers Zach Fishwick and Phoenix Laulu-Togaga'e had three Super League appearances between them.

But it was Hull KR's senior men that gave Wigan a leg-up in the early stages.

The game was only two and a half minutes old when Bevan French ghosted past Coote after a simple shift to the right edge.

After Dagger sent the restart out on the full and Ben Crooks knocked on coming out of yardage, Cade Cust put Liam Marshall over from a well-worked scrum play.

Barely 10 minutes were on the clock when Mike Cooper got the bounce of the ball to finish Marshall's chip back inside.

On a night when Wigan did not need any help, the Robins continued to shoot themselves in the foot.

Coote was the guilty party again in the 20th minute when he stood and watched Jai Field's kick, allowing French to help himself to a second try.

Rovers belatedly settled into the contest and made life uncomfortable for the Warriors in the second quarter - but it came at a cost.

Dagger was helped off with a lower leg injury and Coote soon followed his team-mate down the tunnel after taking a knock to the head.

It was not all doom and gloom for the Robins in the first half, Ethan Ryan touching down Rowan Milnes' kick to the corner on the back of an enterprising piece of play by Coote and Laulu-Togaga'e.

The 20-4 half-time scoreline was respectable in the circumstances but there was a sense Hull KR's fresh injuries would catch up with them.

It took Wigan just three minutes to extend their lead after the interval, Kai Pearce-Paul going over out wide after Rovers failed to shut down French.

Marshall coasted over after taking Liam Farrell's pass and French raced in to complete his hat-trick.

The Robins finished with 12 men after Moore and Cavanaugh were forced off either side of tries for Patrick Mago and Marshall.

The result damages Hull KR's play-off chances but there is a wider issue at play as Super League sleepwalks into a player welfare storm.

Wigan Warriors: Field, French, Halsall, Pearce-Paul, Marshall, Cust, Smith, Cooper, Powell, Byrne, Isa, Farrell, Smithies.

Substitutes: Mago, Ellis, Partington, O'Neill.

Hull KR: Coote, Ryan, Wood, Crooks, Tate, Dagger, Milnes, Fishwick, Parcell, King, Minchella, Royle, Litten.

Substitutes: Maher, Laulu-Togaga'e, Cavanaugh, Moore.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths.