Wigan versus Warrington is always a game that gets the interest of neutrals and creates intensity. The rivalry of both clubs goes way back, yet nothing will be quite as raw in the memory of Warrington players and fans as the Grand Final defeat suffered last October to Wigan Warriors.
Both teams had great success in the World Club Challenge and did the Super League proud, but since then the clubs have experienced vastly different fortunes.
Since Warrington reached the Grand Final in 2016, losing 12-6, their only success has been the World Club Series win over Brisbane, losing all three of their opening games and are planted firmly at the bottom of Super League.
Wigan, however, have been victorious in all three opening matches, with maximum points seeing them joint top with high flying Castleford.
Surely Warrington have too much class in the side, even without Sandow, to be expecting a Middle 8s finish after such a crusade last season.
KEVIN BROWN v GEORGE WILLIAMS
Kevin Brown was in fine form against Brisbane Broncos and it seemed like he silenced any critics after his move from Widnes. Everyone thought the sun shone out of Chris Sandow’s arse at the HJ Stadium and didn’t think anyone could fill his boots. Kevin Brown is struggling at the minute with no ties and only one assist so far this season.
George Williams is on the best form of his career so far, no doubt aided by the return of Leuluai and the experience he brings with him, and at 22, you would think, will only improve. His pressure on and off the ball has been exemplary, scoring two tries and making three assists, and isn’t afraid to put his shoulder in on the big men.
Will Kevin Brown be able to kick start his and the Wolves season?
CLARK v POWELL
The hookers will have some hard work on their hands tomorrow, but that’s what these two love. Sam Powell is one of the hardest working defenders in the league, last season coming only second to Danny Houghton of Hull, and already this season has impressed with his work rate. Don’t believe me? Watch the WCC game and watch how many tackles Powell is involved in, he puts big lads on their arse.
Daryl Clark is much more attacking minded and loves to challenge a defence straight from the play the ball. He has attracted much attention in Australia and will no doubt continue to do so with him being the stand out player of the season so far. He’s actually played well though, he’s not like tallest dwarf, the rest of the team have been pretty poor but his yards gained don’t lie.
Powell and Clark will truly be a battle and could see the game flipped on it’s head if Powell chooses Clark as his man, but if Clark brings his dancing shoes then Warrington’s season could get flying.
In a game like this the packs are always gonna play a large part and this should be no different. The stand out match ups could be Sims and Flower and Westwood going up against the likes of Clubb and Nuuasuala, but each and every man will have work on their hands. Wigan are known for their early attacks and trying to get the points in early through working the forwards hard in the opening 20 and generally weeping the rewards. If Warrington’s experienced and skilled pack can keep them at bay early doors and show some of their ways from last season the game could be won there. Compounding this is the loss of Ryan Sutton from the forwards meaning a possible Wigan debut at prop for Romain Navarrete. I’m reckoning there’s gonna be some headshots and handbags going on with these lads and that’s what we wanna see, some good scrapping. Keep your sexy rugby Cas.
Warrington will be without ex Wigan prop Dom Crosby missing the game due to paternity leave, soft lad. Wire will also be hoping for the return of Matty Russell after his back spasms caused him to pull out of the Salford defeat. On top of these fresh worries Warrington are still without four of their key players, namely Ratchford and Chris Hill, along with the brothers King.
Wigan come into the tie with many a fresh worry, both wingers will be absent in Burgess and Tierney after receiving knee injuries last Friday against Leigh. Ryan Sutton, as mentioned earlier, will miss the game due to an eye injury in the same fixture. When told he wasn’t in the squad Sutton said he didn’t see it coming. Sorry.
Wigan’s fresh injury worries on top of the long list of sick notes including Sam Tomkins, Dom Manfredi, Michael Mcilorum, means their could be yet more debuts handed out after Liam Marshall made his first Super League start for the Warriors. Three players hoping tfor the call up being Tom Davies, Liam Forsyth and Romain Navarette
Joe Bretherton, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Morgan Escaré, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Liam Forsyth, Anthony Gelling, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Romain Navarrete, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Taulima Tautai, Joel Tomkins, Jack Wells, George Williams.
Ryan Atkins, Matty Blythe, Kevin Brown, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Jack Hughes, Jack Johnson, Tom Lineham, Harvey Livett, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Matty Russell, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Joe Westerman, Bennie Westwood