Gabe Hamlin on his game time hopes for the new season as he acknowledges growing competition within the Wigan squad.
Forward looks back on a successful 2018 and shares his thoughts on pre-season so far under Head Coach Adrian Lam.
Hamlin: “I would like to better myself as a player and be the best that I can.”
Gabe Hamlin says he is determined to play more games in 2019 as competition increases in the forward positions.
Hamlin, 22, helped Wigan to Super League success in 2018 after making 16 league appearances, but the young Australian wants to fight for a permanent spot in Adrian Lam’s First Team this year.
He said: “I feel I need to improve and develop my game a bit more. Obviously, the goal is to play more games and win everything that we compete in, but I would like to better myself as a player and be the best that I can and if I can do that, hopefully it will bring us a step forward to a trophy in some sort of way.”
A versatile player who can fill in at either prop or loose forward, Hamlin is hungry to prove himself as a regular and wants to impress new Head Coach Lam in the upcoming friendly games, but with the addition of Joe Bullock and the progression of Liam Byrne, the competition for places is rising.
He stated: “I’m really looking forward to the pre-season games. There’s a lot of young players coming through and so many players that deserve to play so it’s going to be very hard this year to get a spot in the team.
“Joe’s (Bullock) a big, fit player who can handle himself and it makes me push myself more and it gives an extra advantage to the team because it makes us better. The more players we have the better we are.”
The ‘Hammer’, as he is affectionately known, was recommended to Wigan by Michael Maguire and Pat Richards and has gone onto exceed those expectations, after being named the Warriors’ 2018 Young Player of the Year.
Since his arrival from South Sydney Rabbitohs in October 2017, he has become a firm fan favourite with supporters as his industrious approach and powerful play allows him to cast an eye for the try line. Hamlin was unlucky to miss out on the 17-man squad for the 2018 Grand Final against Warrington, but the forward is willing to not let that happen again as he prepares for his second year at the Club.
“Everyone has been great to me. I appreciate everything that the fans do and all the messages I receive. I try to respond to everyone and do my best for them. We play for them and they’re the ones that make our job.
“It was a roller-coaster year. At the start, I waited quite a while and then I got my shot in April and then I had to wait again so it was tough. I did question whether it was worth being here and away from family, but I then got another shot and played a number of games in a row and I started to feel good.
“I didn’t play in the Semi-Final or the Grand Final and I definitely don’t want it to happen again. My family flew over to see me and I felt like I should have been there, so if I get that opportunity again there’s no way I would give it up.”
Hamlin also spoke about Lam’s influence on the squad and what pre-season has been like compared to last year.
He revealed: “It’s different to last year. I feel like it’s a lot less stressful in a way and all the boys are buying in to everything we’re doing. I feel a lot more confident than when I did a year ago.
“It’s been tough but really good. I’m not sure if it’s been harder or easier! There’s been a very good vibe and our middles are a lot fitter than last year and in big games you need them to step up. There’s no stopping us at the moment. Hopefully, we can start the season well and progress from there.”
Last week, the Wigan squad trained with Super League referee Liam Moore to work on the pitch and practice the new rules for the 2019 season.
On the session, Hamlin said: “It was quite different, but I’m used to it as they are the same rules as when I was playing for the Under-20s side at South Sydney. I’m used to those rules already, so it’s not been a big change for myself.”
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