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Saturday evening sees Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves face off in Super League’s Grand Final two years after facing each other in the same event after overcoming Castleford Tigers and League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens in the semi-finals.
Both teams have named unchanged nineteen man squads from those knockout clashes and both will be saying goodbye to stars and icons at the end of proceedings. Wigan will be hoping to send the likes of Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton out on the best possible high as all three prepare to depart the club. Throw into the mix that Super League Coach of the Year Shaun Wane will be signing off in rugby league after the Grand Final and you could be forgiven for suggesting that the emotion may be on the Warriors’ side – as alluded to earlier in the week by Tomkins. In their ranks they boast Man of Steel nominee Bateman who has been in sterling form this season. It could be suggested that it is only since his imminent move to Canberra – with Sutton – was announced that he has truly received the credit his impressive performances deserve but he clearly inspires the defence that Wigan’s semi-final victory was built upon.
However, Warrington will also be saying goodbye to Tyrone Roberts who will be departing the club after just one season in Super League. The Wire will be aiming to end a 63-year wait for domestic dominance and, after appearing in three of the last six Grand Finals, will be hoping to end the ‘it’s always your year’ chants which the Super League terraces taunt them with. After overcoming St Helens in a remarkable upset last time out, confidence will no doubt be soaring through the Wolves ranks and, in the shape of Tom Lineham and Josh Charnley, have two of the best finishers in the competition. Stefan Ratchford will also need a big game if Warrington are to triumph and, while Gary Schofield has this week described him as a player who he feels always has a mistake in him, his ability to do the unexpected could well be key to unlocking the Warriors’ fierce defence. Daryl Clark will also be key and, after an incredible season, has improved vastly from his 2017 showings.
Wigan: Bateman, Clubb, Davies, Escare, Farrell, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hamlin, Leuluai, Manfredi, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Sutton, Tautai, Tomkins, Williams
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, T King, G King, Livett, Charnley, Thompson, Westwood