Maguire ready for war

MICHAEL Maguire has challenged his forwards to fight fire with fire against Hull as Wigan aim to extend their unbeaten Super League record.

Maguire’s men enjoyed two comfortable victories over the Humbersiders last season, running in almost 100 points in the process.

The Warriors coach is expecting a far tougher game against Richard Agar’s charges this time round, though.

And he says his pack must topple the visitors’ heavyweight forwards if the Wigan backs are to have another enjoyable day at the office.

With hard-hitting Mark O’Meley and tireless veteran Craig Fitzgibbon leading their forwards’ battle, and Danny Tickle offering support from the back row, the opening skirmishes should be tasty to say the least.

Maguire said: “Hull have a big pack, and we need to make sure we don’t let them take control of the game.

“They have a lot of quality across their line-up but their set of forwards are very big, very strong, and we’ve got to win that battle first.”

The match will be Wigan’s first league game on home soil due to the quirks of the fixture list.

“It’ll be great to be back at home,” Maguire acknowledged. “We obviously played there for the World Club but this is our first Super League game.

“Our fans were terrific when we played St George-Illawarra. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the result we all wanted, but hopefully they’ll come out and we can give them something to cheer about.”

Wigan went some way towards exorcising the demons of that World Club Challenge loss by overcoming Salford in convincing fashion last weekend.

“It was great to see the boys bounce back the way they did,” added Maguire.

“The guys are really professional and they want to get back.

“We’ve got a good squad here and we’ve lots of young players who have already shown what they can do.”

Wigan will again be without prop Stuart Fielden, who was told this week he could be out for most of the season after undergoing surgery on an aggravated knee injury.

Maguire accepts the loss of one of his most consistent performers from last year is a bitter pill to swallow – although there is better news concerning Brett Finch and Pat Richards.

“Stuey, it’s just one of those unfortunate things,” Maguire remarked.

“But the great thing about him is that he’s so professional in everything he does, you know that when he does come back he’ll be raring to go.

“Finchy could be ready in two or three weeks, Pat in four or five weeks, and then there’s the possibility of Gareth Hock coming into that mix.

“Then we have Stuey as well so we’ve got a good squad, and it’s going to get better.

“When you get players like that back into your squad, it’s going to be a big boost, but we’re looking at the present for now.”

With Fielden out, young back rower Lee Mossop is likely to continue at prop having switched there in the off-season:

“Mossop is improving week in, week out and he’s playing really well for us,” revealed Maguire, who is also looking forward to welcoming back former Warrior Cameron Phelps to the DW.

The utility back left Wigan in the off-season after spending most of last term on the outside looking in, and Maguire expects him to have a point to prove tomorrow on his Hull debut.

He said: “I’m sure Cameron’s going to be looking forward to playing.

“We’ve got to do a job on him, we’ve got to make sure we close them down. I would have liked him to stay, but the salary cap stops you having everyone.

“I’m pleased he’s got another opportunity, though.”

Liam Farrell (above) admits it will be weird to be facing Phelps so soon after regarding him as a team-mate.

“It’ll be good to see him,” Farrell said. “All the lads were wondering what he was going to do, if he’d get an offer and we’re all made up he got himself sorted.

“You put all that to the back of your mind during the 80 minutes, though – but at full-time you’re mates again.”