Following the club’s return from their fortnight long Australian adventure, Shaun Wane’s Wigan team head to more familiar foes tonight as they head to the Halliwell Jones to face off against a Warrington side coming off their first victory of the season.
Following disappointing results at home to Leeds and away to Huddersfield, last weekend’s visit to Widnes saw The Wire prevail 18-10 to record Steve Price’s maiden Super League win. Tonight, however, his new charges have a tough task at hand as the Warriors, coming into the match with a 100% Super League record thus far, seek to claim their third victory of the season at a ground where the Cherry and Whites boast a strong record. Winning four of the last five corresponding fixtures, last season saw Wigan win both the Super League match and a Challenge Cup Quarter Final.
The Wolves, therefore, will be seeking revenge and Price will be hoping that his new team can begin to gel following last weekend’s victory as it is time for his players to deliver. Nobody can doubt the quality individuals the Wolves have on the park and, if they can manage to click in this game, they may find a visiting team who are still recovering from their around-the-world trip. In addition to that, Wigan are without both Joe Burgess and Dan Sarginson – both likely starters in a full team – while prop Frank-Paul Nuuasala has left the club. Sarginson’s absence, in particular, is likely to be the biggest miss with the returning second rower John Bateman set to slot into the position where he featured for England in the RLWC. Somewhat ironic considering that Wane, of Bateman’s positional selection, that “If I had been Wayne Bennett, I wouldn’t have picked him as a centre, but I’m probably going to do the same tomorrow.”
Warrington, however, look at full strength with Tyrone Roberts set to return to the fold following a minor injury and Sitaleki Akauola, an off season second row recruit from Penrith, featuring in the squad for the first time. Mitch Brown looks set to also make his debut for the club following his transfer from recently relegated Leigh as Matty Russell looks set to miss out this week.
However, despite Wigan’s Australian exploits and long travels, I believe the Cherry and Whites will prove too strong for their hosts and George Williams, Sam Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai’s superb starts to the season should see the Warriors edge this match.
Score prediction: Warriors by 8