Trio doubtful for Saints clash

SAM Tomkins, Sean O’Loughlin and Michael McIlorum could all be missing for Monday’s Super League blockbuster at St Helens.

The trio of big game players all have knee trouble meaning Shaun Wane may have to do without them as Wigan look to pick up valuable points towards retaining the League Leaders’ Shield.

Sean O'Loughlin

Sean O'Loughlin

And with a Challenge Cup semi-final date with London Broncos standing in the way between the Warriors and a 24th appearance at Wembley, Wane is in no position to risk anyone not fully fit.

“Those three have got knocks on their knees. I will check them on Sunday on our team run,” said Wane.

“I’m expecting them to be pushing to play but if they don’t, it’s a Wigan v Saints derby so the players who come in won’t need any motivating.

“We have a major game a few days after so if there is any doubt about any players the big game for us is the London game so I want to make sure everybody’s fit.”

But Wane’s unwillingness to throw players carrying knocks into the arena is not an indication his eyes are only focused on the cup semi-final.

“I desperately want to win both games but I won’t be risking people this Monday,” said Wane.

“It’s a great game between two great clubs and I have a lot of admiration for the St Helens club.

“It’s a really big game in our calendar, one we look forward to, and one we will be going out to win.”

Front row reinforcements in Ben Flower and Epalahame Lauaki are nearing contention to return to action and such is the importance of a league double over Saints, Wane will not rest them for the sake of the cup.

“I need them to play,” he said.

“People like Hame and Ben Flower who haven’t played for a few weeks - I need them to have a hit out against St Helens when we play on Monday.

“I have a few bumps and bruises and if I can get those players fit I will be a lot more confident.”

But despite the importance of beating their most fierce rivals, Wane is realistic when assessing his side’s prospects looking at potential outcomes.

“There are still games where we can get those points back so it won’t be the end of our season, (if Wigan lose against Saints)” he said.

“The London game is the priority – 80 minutes where we could get knocked out – we can’t allow that to happen so we need to be full-on to give our fans a chance to enjoy the weekend.

“It is an important game for us on Monday but the following Saturday it could be all over if we don’t concentrate.

“I have one eye personally on the cup but from a players’ point of view it will all be about St Helens.”

Wane is also refusing to draw reassurance from the gulf in league positions between the sides.

Wigan are mathematically assured a place in the play-offs with six games of the regular season still to play while Saints need points to stay in the top eight.

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t even look at the tables when we play St Helens,” Wane said.

“If we play Saints we will be up for the game and so will they. They league position doesn’t mean anything.”

Saints have never finished outside the play-off spots in Super League with their worst finish coming in 2004 when they placed fifth.