Opponents: Warrington Wolves

Date: 23.02.18

Venue: Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Tickets: wiganwarriors.com/tickets

A look at the opposition

A mixed start for Warrington for 2018; a home defeat to the Leeds Rhinos followed by defeat at Huddersfield to start the season but a win over local rivals, Widnes last week has kick-started their season.

Under new boss, Steve Price, a transition period was perhaps to be expected, particularly after such a long time under Tony Smith. The quality of Warrington’s side on paper looks like they are a top-four side and should be competing at the later end of the season. The likes of Clarke, Currie and Hill to mention only three shows their quality.

Their right edge does look defensively weaker than most of the sides who will be competing for the top four. Defensively, Hughes, Atkins and Russell looks penetrable and coming up against an edge of Williams, Farrell, Gildart and Marshall – Wigan could be in for a bit of joy down that side.

Team news

From warringtonwolves.com; “Tyrone Roberts returns to the mix after missing a couple of weeks with a slight niggle in his knee. Signing Sitaleki Akauola is also named in the squad for the first time”

Wigan this week released Frank-Paul Nuuausala, who was in the 19-man squad who faced Hull two weeks ago.

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Dan Sarginson is also dropped from the squad, whether this is to injury or poor form, we are yet to discover. Joe Burgess, despite playing minutes against Souths, doesn’t make the 19 man squad this week. Craig Mullen and Romain Navarrete are rewarded for their fine performances against Souths with a place in the 19 man squad. Obviously, no Zak Hardaker for Wigan yet, who could be joining the club pending the outcome of his drugs hearing.

Thoughts on the game

There will be no excuses from Shaun Wane and his side if they lose the game on Friday, despite only arriving back in the UK from Sydney on Monday. Wane rested a lot of his key players for long periods against Souths to ensure that they are in the best possible position to compete against Warrington on Friday and attempt to maintain their winning start to the 2018 Super League season. I spoke with Kris Radlinski through the week and asked him how his jet lag was, his response was along the lines of, “jetlag is for the mentally weak” and that has been the attitude throughout the Wigan camp this week.

Warrington, one win from three, a disappointing 2017 season and a new coach perhaps means that this is a game that Warrington cant afford to lose, particularly if they are to show their credentials for 2018. It certainly isn’t a must win game, four games in for Warrington, but in order to get confidence back for their aspirations in 2018, it's certainly an important fixture for them.

Phil Wilkinson on Wigan Fan TV this week, likened this game for Wigan as similar to that of the Widnes game last year after the Cronulla game. The style of play, the performance perhaps doesn’t matter too much on Friday night, it’s a case for Wigan to get the result and move on.

How much the trip to Australia affects Wigan will probably dictate how this game is played, Wigan’s selection on the right edge is also going to be interesting with Bateman or Isa likely to line up at centre in place of Sarginson.

Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Friday would be:

  1. Tomkins
  2. Davies
  3. Bateman
  4. Gildart
  5. Marshall
  6. Williams
  7. Powell
  8. Clubb
  9. Leuluai
  10. Flower
  11. Farrell
  12. Tomkins
  13. O’Loughlin

I/C. T. Tautai

I/C. R. Sutton

I/C. R. Navarrete

I/C. M. Escare

With Mullen and Isa to miss out; I can see Isa perhaps being selected ahead of Navarette but I think his performance against Sout’s and with Nuuausala departing, it could be a big chance for Romain to shine.

Prediction

Score: Warrington 10 – 18 Wigan

First Try Scorer: Gildart