Wigan Warriors’ bid to become the first Super League club to lift the World Club Challenge on Australian soil received a boost today when new full-back Matt Bowen was cleared to play in the match.
The First Utility Super League champions were presented with a major worry after the former North Queensland Cowboy was placed on report for a high and late tackle on Huddersfield Giants’ Scott Grix during Friday's opening Super League match.
Giants coach Paul Anderson claimed the tackle "didn't look good" in the immediate aftermath of his side’s 24-8 win at the DW Stadium but the Rugby Football League's match-review panel ruled Bowen's initial contact was with Grix's shoulder.
The panel decided that the penalty, awarded by referee Richard Silverwood, was sufficient punishment, which means that Bowen is available for the February 22 clash with Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Bowen is also free to play, if selected by coach Shaun Wane, in Wednesday's warm-up match against New Zealand Warriors in Hamilton.
The champions left Wigan on Saturday and arrived in Auckland today following their flights via Dubai and Sydney. They are due to train at Waikato Stadium, venue for the friendly, tomorrow.
Wane has taken a squad of 27 players, including new signings Jordan James and John Bateman, who were not selected against Huddersfield, and youngsters Dom Manfredi, George Williams, Ryan Hampshire, Logan Tomkins and Greg Burke.
Captain Sean O'Loughlin and his England team-mate Josh Charnley also sat out the opening league game through injury and are unlikely to be risked against the Warriors.
Wane told the Vodafone Warriors TV at the airport: "All the players will be looked after between now and Wednesday and I am expecting a good performance against the NZ Warriors and hopefully a few players will put their hand up then to play against the Roosters in the big game.
"I wanted the players to come over here to a great country like New Zealand and play this game before hopefully going on to Sydney and making history."
Wigan squad: Sean O'Loughlin (captain), Matthew Bowen, Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Matthew Smith, Blake Green, Michael McIlorum, Eddy Pettybourne, Tony Clubb, Scott Taylor, Ben Flower, Liam Farrell, Jordan James, Gil Dudson, Sam Powell, Dom Crosby, John Batemen, Anthony Gelling, Dom Manfredi, George Williams, Ryan Hampshire, Dan Sarginson, Logan Tomkins, Greg Burke, Iain Thornley, Jack Hughes, Joe Burgess.