Wigan Warriors v Hull KR - Jez Litten hoping to seize his opportunity

THE one positive about injuries, if there can be any, is that someone else gets a chance to shine.

Hull KR currently have a few players in that position, not least Jez Litten, the young hooker who is eager to make the most of his unexpected opportunity at Wigan Warriors tomorrow.

Clearly, the Robins have issues given they have lost four straight games and have already been decimated by injuries despite it still being so early in the campaign.

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Australian hooker Matt Parcell had just returned from shoulder surgery only to injure an ankle in the loss at Huddersfield Giants and face another two months on the sidelines. But that means Litten, who turns 22 on Tuesday, knows he will have an extended opportunity in Tony Smith’s side.

Jez Litten, playing for Hull FC.Jez Litten, playing for Hull FC.
Jez Litten, playing for Hull FC. | Simon Wilkinson - [email protected]

“I’ve not seen injuries like this before,” he said, with Rovers missing eight first-teamers for the trip to in-form Wigan.

“And it’s a shame about Matt getting this injury after what he’s already been through with his shoulder.

“But it is a big chance for me. I have a lot to improve on from last week’s game but hopefully I can get a run of games now and get some good form.”

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The diminutive Litten made the move across the city from Hull FC last July knowing how difficult it would be to get game-time for the Black and Whites with their captain and former Man of Steel Danny Houghton in the No 9 jersey,

With his pace around the ruck, Litten is always a threat on attack but it is the other area of his game where he knows he must make gains to deal with the weekly challenges of Super League.

“My defence is a big thing to improve on,” he said, something Smith is working with him on.

“But I’m looking to get that balance where my attack and defence is good.

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“It was my goal when I knew Matt wouldn’t be back for the start of the season to get ready for it. It’s tough in the middle. I’ve had some good performances in there and some to improve on.”

Rovers led at the start of the second period against Castleford Tigers last week only to eventually be pulled apart after Ryan Brierely’s untimely yellow card.

They have lost arguably their most influential front-row Mitch Garbutt (concussion) after that game as well as Super League’s top try-scorer Ben Crooks (neck).

Still without captain Weller Hauraki, Adam Quinlan, Jamie Ellis and Parcell, it is understandable why KR know things will get tougher at Wigan who are bidding for a fourth straight win. But they have Harvey Livett, Robbie Mulhern, Jordan Abdull and George Lawler back to strengthen them tomorrow.

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Smith is also expected to give Ethan Ryan, the winger who scored 18 tries in 31 games for Bradford Bulls last term, a debut in place of Crooks and Anesu Mudoti could also debut.

Litten added: “We’ve been in games for half hour, 40 minutes but hopefully we’ll put that right.

“Wigan have dangerous players and they will try bully us but we have to stand up to that. We’ll respect them but not that much.”

Ben Flower and Joe Burgess replace Jake Shorrocks and Tony Clubb in the Wigan squad.