Warriors set for another HJ tussle

WIGAN are set to wrap-up their Super League preparations with a friendly against Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on January 30.

The game between last season’s Grand Final winners and Challenge Cup winners – labelled the ‘Clash of the Champions’ – will serve as a testimonial for Wolves hooker Jon Clarke.

Although the fixture had not been officially confirmed by either club by last night, details were posted on Clarke’s testimonial Twitter account.

It read: “Testimonial match v Wigan Warriors, Clash of the Champions, 30th Jan @ HJ, 3pm KO, spread the word!!!!!”

The fixture has been in the pipeline for a while, but uncertainty over whether the HJ would be available meant a venue could not be confirmed.

The stadium pitch has been treated to fend off an ‘invasive weed grass’ that threatened to leave the surface threadbare.

Work began last September and there was a suggestion that Clarke’s game may have been taken to Widnes’ Stobart Stadium.

But his Twitter post has now clarified the situation and it allows Wigan fans to look forward to three pre-season friendlies this month, before their new Super League campaign kicks-off against St Helens at Cardiff’s Millennium Magic on February 12.

Michael Maguire’s charges play their first trial game at The Willows a week on Sunday (January 16).

That game may give fans a chance to see the three new recruits from Melbourne – Jeff Lima, Ryan Hoffman and Brett Finch – in action for the Warriors for the first time.

Two members of last year’s Wigan squad – Phil Bailey and Iafeta Paleaaesina – as well as ex-Warriors Stephen Wild, Wayne Godwin and Sean Gleeson may line up for their new club, Salford.

The following week, Maguire will take the younger members of his squad to Cumbria to face Garry Schofield’s Championship outfit Barrow in a testimonial for Raiders stalwart Brett McDermott. And the game against the Wolves the following week, featuring a strong squad, will complete their preparations.

Clarke, a former Hindley amateur, started his career at Wigan and played 28 games for his home-town club between 1997 and 1999, before moving to the Wolves following a stint with London Broncos.

This will be the third successive year that Wigan have faced Warrington at the HJ in a testimonial pre-season encounter, following games for Lee Briers (2009) and Wigan-born Paul Wood last year.