More than bragging rights on offer as Wigan Warriors take on St Helens today

Zak Hardaker says there is more than bragging rights and two points up for grabs today - they are also battling for the unofficial tag as Super League's best back five.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 2:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 3:10 pm
Zak Hardaker, Adrian Lam, Juston Holbrook and Lachlan Coote at the DW Stadium

Last month Adrian Lam proclaimed Wigan's backs were the best in the competition following Joe Burgess' return to the left edge.

Full-back Hardaker doesn't shy away from the fact they want to be regarded as the best - but admits St Helens' crop, featuring Regan Grace, Lachlan Coote and Mark Percival, are currently No.1.

"We spoke about wanting to be the best back five," said the ex-Man of Steel.

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"I've watched Saints and they're the back five to chase.

"It probably is them with the best back five but that's definitely something we can aim towards - we want to be the best back five in the league. "But we're confident in our ability and hope the forwards stand up and do their jobs as well. It's a challenge everyone is up for."

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said: "Obviously Wigan do have a great back five.

"I watched closely the game after Lammy was quoted (with saying they were the best) and they destroyed Catalans.

"They're very quick and agile and get through a lot of work, we'll need to do a lot of work on the backfield."

Hardaker and Coote helped promote the derby fixture at a press conference earlier this week and the fixture throws up some intriguing duels across the park.

"This is the test for our back five," said centre Oliver Gildart, who will face Mark Percival. "Obviously for me, with Percy, but for the other lads as well."

Of course, their ability to light up the game with backline moves will depend largely on the efforts of the pack.

Wigan are bolstered by the return of Sean O'Loughlin, Ben Flower and Joe Greenwood as they prepare to go up against an in-form pack featuring Luke Thompson - a player Gildart knows well.

They went to school together at St Edmund Arrowsmith High in Ashton, along with Joe Burgess, and were last year both in the England side.

"Thommo has been doing a great job for them," said Gildart. "It was good to play in all three Tests together.

"We played in the same school team together, I played a year above, and Thommo used to look after me - now I'm sure he'll be trying to take my head off!

"I was a halfback then, I used to just kick the ball to Budgie. Now I just pass it to him."

The Hull derby will be shown on Sky Sports ahead of the Wigan-Saints match.

"Back in Yorkshire, people argue which is the biggest derby, but I think this is the biggest one," added Hardaker.

Kick-off is 3pm and James Child is the referee.