In the second part of our 18th man column, our panelists discuss tomorrow's game at Wakefield - and reveal who they want to win the clash between St Helens and Warrington!
Do you expect Wigan to beat Wakefield tomorrow night?
Robert Kenyon: Every game in Super League is a tough contest, I thought we’d clicked last week but injuries to Sammut, Greenwood and Manfredi put paid to that, we need to regroup and start afresh. Wakefield are at home and going for three wins on the bounce, they’re a good side and it will be a tough ask but hopefully our youngsters will step up to the mark as they have done in recent weeks. Joe Shorrocks and Liam Paisley could be playing alongside Smithies, Byrne, Partington and Shorrocks which is really dipping into our reserves. We have enough quality in our back line to cause Wakefield problems, it’s guys like Fafita I worry about, our pack will really need to step it up if we are to stop the likes of Fafita running amok.
Jeanette Lusher: To win this match we need the right tactics and we need to stick to the game plan. Wakefield has a huge pack so playing up the middle will be futile as Fifita and Pauli Pauli will have a field day. Wigan needs a good kicking game to turn around these big forwards and to tire them as we did against Catalans. We need to inject chip kicks, grubber kicks, 40/20 kicks, indeed, any kick that gets us behind their line of defence as the speed of our backs is our biggest asset at the moment. Wigan must also endeavour to get quick play of the ball at the ruck.
Jon Lyon: Hope yes, expect no. We are weakened further by more injuries to Manfredi, Sammut and Greenwood. Fortunately we have quality players like Tom Davies to come back into the side. Presumably Jake Shorrocks will get more game time to prove whether he is the real deal in what is a make or break season for him. Our loss at Castleford appeared to be more to do with yet again being left with only one substitute and players tiring, rather than a lack of ability.
The young forwards again did themselves proud and should be looking forward to taking on the likes of Fifita, Pauli and Arona having excelled against big Catalans and Castleford packs the last two weeks. Wakefield are at home and will start as favourites but we’ve seen enough in attack the last couple of weeks to think we have a decent chance.
Darren Wrudd: I hate this question as I actually don’t expect a Wigan win. I am not saying that it is unwinnable, but with the depleted ranks and poor form I can’t see Wakefield passing up their chance for a win against the current champions to cement their own form which has been pretty good so far in 2019. Our chances lie in doing what we are good at and not reacting to a Wakefield side who revolve largely around their pack. Defend with structure and trust your outside man to do his job, don’t get drawn and we could post a memorable win against the odds.
Sean Lawless: Wakefield is a place like Castleford for Wigan over the past few seasons, one in which wins don’t come easily. Wigan got beaten up physically in the second half last week against Castleford and Wakefield will look to do the same.
The key for Wigan is going to be getting the likes of Clubb, O’Loughlin and Flower on the pitch – the bigger the bodies, the better. Wigan have enough to beat them out-wide, they have enough to beat anyone down the left edge, but they need strength through the middle.
If Wigan have two of three aforementioned back in the team, they will win.
Finally, get off the fence... who do you want to win tomorrow’s game between St Helens and Warrington?
Robert Kenyon: It’s like asking if I want the Norovirus or Tonsilitis. I couldn’t possibly say, maybe at a push if I had both arms twisted behind my back, a gun to my head, whilst made to walk the plank to give an answer I’d say draw with a golden point win for Warrington.
Jeanette Lusher: I just want both teams to knock seven bells out of each other so that both teams are as shattered as possible going into the two games in three days over the Easter weekend!
In my dreams I want it to be a draw on 80 minutes and then play a further five minutes each way and, if i have to come down off the fence, then I want Warrington to drop a goal in the final seconds!
Jon Lyon: I’d much rather have a splintery bum than answer this question. I can’t stand seeing either team win. Ultimately I think it would be best for Wigan if Warrington were to win as I expect Saints will win more by the end of the season so any dropped points would be good. With Good Friday in mind I’ll be quite happy to see a ferocious game with plenty bumps and bruises and maybe a suspension or two for Saints. Regardless of who wins, it should be a cracking game.
Darren Wrudd: Haha, fence? There is no fence in this instance even though my wife Glenda dared me to say Saints ! But I would love to see Saints go down heavily to a Warrington side who are the real deal this year. Two losses back to back for Saints could dent their confidence and the following Easter derby would really be up in the wind.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no Wire fan as such, I think they harbour one of the games dirtiest forwards in Ben Westwood, but its Saints for goodness sake. If they played against themselves I would still want them to lose.
Sean Lawless: It doesn’t really matter who is playing St Helens, I will always want Saints to lose! It’s a real test for Saints coming off the back of the defeat by the Wigan Reserves in the South of France last week, led by a decent player called Sam Tomkins, a defeat on Friday leading into the Good Friday game would be very tasty. Saints will lose tomorrow and on Good Friday, all of sudden Wigan will be six points behind them…