Our 18th man columnists discuss Warriors' form - and reveal which Warrington player, past or present, they would love to have seen play for Wigan...
Wigan travel over to Warrington tomorrow – do they have a chance of winning?
Jeanette Lusher: Every game so far this season has been winnable with the margin of defeat in each fixture always being narrow.
So far injuries and concussion have prevented us from putting out our starting 17 and on field injuries every game have blighted and disrupted us even further!
Sadly these matters are beyond the team’s control but what they can put right are slow starts, ill discipline and poor defence!
The lads are a very honest bunch and will certainly rise to this huge challenge. Their backs are to the wall and they know exactly what is expected of them to win this game.
My thoughts are that the lads need to put in a relentless 80-minute performance where they get into the face of the Wolves players and stifle their attack, and certainly they need to clamp the ball to prevent any offloads.
The players need to make clever use of the ball with field kicks, chip kicks and grubber kicks to get behind the defensive line and to turn around those huge Warrington forwards.
On the refereeing front it would be good to see an equal 10 metres for both sides, no slowing down the game and a quick play of the ball!
Robert Kenyon: We stand more of a chance with Greenwood back that’s for sure, it’s going to be a tough ask as Warrington are flying high at the top of the league whilst we are in transition. But we’ve been here before, Saints ran away with the league at the start and tapered off when it mattered, I’m hoping that we come good soon.
Zak Hardaker has been out of the game for a while and is still finding his feet and when he does he’s going to be some player, he has shown glimpses and it will be good when he is up to full speed. Sam Powell is injured so it gives us a chance to change things at 9, I’d be tempted to play young Amir Bourouh there instead of a makeshift hooker or at least bench him.
Jon Lyon: I can’t say I’m confident but there has to be hope. The performances against Sydney and Leeds have shown what we can do, even if the rest of the time we have shown what we can’t.
There must have been strong words behind closed doors this week, problems aired, such as the O’Loughlin/Powell dispute and its up to the players now to react and show some pride in the shirt. A game against our close rivals is probably best to help with that, if we can’t get fired up for a match against Warrington we might as well give up. I would like to see every player show the same enthusiasm that Gabe Hamlin has shown this season.
Darren Wrudd: Silly question, really, of course we have a chance. We do need to play better or Warrington will take us to the cleaners, but we are not a champion side for nothing.
If we get the basics right, then all will pretty much follow on. But the one up nature of our sets is killing us as we have no players moving which makes the ball carrier an easy target.
Perhaps now that George’s future is settled he can begin to concentrate on his game and give us some structure. Stretch the line, kick well in good time and we will see a different team altogether.
The NRL kicks off this weekend – do you have a team you will cheer for?
Jeanette Lusher: What other NRL team would I cheer for than Canberra Raiders? English players seem to flourish under the Raiders banner as we’ve seen with Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson. Now they’ve enlisted John Bateman and Ryan Sutton with George Williams on his way next season. It would appear that Canberra has more faith in Wigan players than some of our own supporters do!
I really want these lads to do the business in the NRL and to achieve the goals they’ve set themselves. I also want to see them have even more success by earning a Great Britain shirt and doing the job for their country.
Robert Kenyon: I seem drawn to Souths for some reason, always have been, I also like watching Penrith, Melbourne and North Queensland Cowboys. I love watching the NRL as it’s like watching Barcelona every week, it’s a level above Super League that’s for sure and I try and watch every game.
Jon Lyon: The team I have supported the last few years has been the Cronulla Sharks due to an admiration for their powerful forwards and exciting backs. Luke Lewis and Valentine Holmes will be big losses, but Josh Morris should prove a shrewd signing and if Shaun Johnson can stay fit the change of scenery from NZ Warriors should provoke a good season from him.
Like everyone else in Wigan I’ll also be keeping a close eye on Canberra to see how Sutton and Bateman get on.
I would expect Sydney Roosters to be favourites for the title but the NRL teams are well matched and one of eight or nine teams could well win the Grand Final.
Darren Wrudd: I can’t help but like St George Illawara, always have. They have a good team and should certainly press for honours again and with players like Widdop and James Graham, it is nice to cheer on some England players too. The only thing that does not sit well is their shirt! A red Vee just does not inspire me to cheer and woop as they score tries, funny that.
After five rounds, which Super League team has surprised you the most?
Jeanette Lusher: Wigan Warriors surprised me the most but sadly for all the wrong reasons however joking aside I have to say Castleford!
Their season start was decimated with long term injuries to both Luke Gale and Jamie Ellis – a key half back pairing. Further injuries have seen them turning up for games with as many as eight first teamers missing!
They have won four matches convincingly against Catalans, Hull FC, London Broncos and Hull KR with their only defeat coming against Warrington. They have always had a good attacking style but this season they have upped their game on the defensive front.
They are well drilled and well coached and each player wears the shirt with pride. I am particularly impressed with Jake Truman and Liam Watts.
Robert Kenyon: I’d say us, Leeds and Huddersfield, we are struggling to find our feet –all three teams who really should be up in the top six. It’s early in the season so there is time to turn things around.
Castleford are doing well without Luke Gale and Warrington without Kevin Brown, both at the top end of the table and St Helens leading the pack without Ben Barba.
Jon Lyon: Apart from Wigan, for the wrong reasons, it would have to be Salford. After good wins at Huddersfield and home to London I thought the thrashing by Leeds was normal service resumed, but a tough away win at Hull KR and the phenomenal performance in destroying Catalans 46-0 in France last Saturday has shown what they can achieve if they can keep their best players fit.
They threw the ball around with great confidence and scored some sensational tries, and it’s a shame they can’t seem to attract bigger crowds, no matter how well they play. Ian Watson has done a fantastic job without many supposed star players, long may it continue.
Darren Wrudd: The club which has undoubtedly surprised me the most is actually Wigan. Who would have thought it possible that we would go down to the three struggling teams in the first few weeks?
Our effort and scramble defence has been there, but we have seemed totally clueless at times in attack. Almost like our cards have been shuffled and we are still trying to get them back in order.
On paper we should be looking at the top four at least, but with a few injuries already changing the starting line up, we have just found no fluency in our structures at all yet.
I do believe that once settled, we will be a force and there really is no need to press the panic buttons. But confidence will only come with a few points under our belts and then the poor start will just be a memory.
A hypothetical: If you could have had any Warrington player past or present at Wigan (in his prime), who would it be?
Jeanette Lusher: There are so many to choose from –Adrian Morley, Brian Bevan, Alex Murphy, Des Drummond, Les Boyd but it’s Mike Gregory who gets my vote! A Wigan St Pat’s lad who was fit, strong and above all courageous.
He was a true leader and an inspiration to his fellow players. Mike had all the attributes that I admire in a rugby league player and was a perfect role model for any youngster.
Robert Kenyon: Andrew Johns skews the scales so I’ll take him out of the equation. I’m only going to pick from the era I’ve watched too, so early 90s onwards and I’ll pick a past and present player.
Past - Paul Sculthorpe, he just pipped Iestyn Harris and Jonathan Davies who were both class players. I thought about Tawera Nikau just for his mullet and another obscure player who I always thought was underrated at Warrington and would have had him at Wigan in a heartbeat was Sid Domic, though not in the same league as Scully and co I always admired him. Present – Daryl Clarke, just pipping Harvey Livett who is one for he future but I’m not sure in what position. We need someone like Clarke, a wiley experienced hooker to get the team going forward and cause problems running from acting half.
Jon Lyon: Such a tough question. One of the greatest players of all time in Andrew Johns would have to be the best to have played for Warrington but as he only turned out for four matches it seems an unfair choice.
I didn’t get to see Brian Bevan play, his try scoring record speaks for itself, but wingers have rarely been something Wigan have struggled for.
I would have to go with Adrian Morley, who for many years was one of the best second rows and then props I have seen. Anyone who can dominate in both Super League and the NRL deserves the utmost respect. I’m just not sure if he would have been happy playing alongside Mick Cassidy!
Darren Wrudd: I thought long and hard over this one, with several possible answers from recent history alone. Lee Briers would certainly be a possible choice but in the halves Nathan Wood and even his replacement Andrew Johns could figure, although Johns’ admissions over drink and drugs throughout his career would rule him out for me, however contrite he seemed after the fact.
My choice though would have to be Mike Gregory. A tenacious player with great skill, toughness and speed. Gregory wore his heart on his sleeve and as a Wigan lad, would have given his all as a player, as he did when he was coach. I would love to have seen him in the Cherry & White at his best, he was simply sublime.