High-flying Salford host under-performing Wigan on Sunday afternoon. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Red Devils are sitting pretty in Super League so far, currently residing in fourth place. Last week’s outing against resulted in a 24-20 loss against Castleford, only the third defeat for Ian Watson’s men so far this season. With one of the best attacks in the competition this year, it’s easy to see why they’re sitting so high.
For a champion side, Wigan are nowhere near where they need to be. Their fans know that, their coach knows that and the players will too. 11th position is not good enough for them and their defeat to Warrington last week showed a glimpse of what they can do but a full 80-minute performance is needed.
After impressing in his debut last week, Adam Walker maintains his place in the 19-man squad.
Adam Lawton could make his home debut for the side and Ed Chamberlain is included in what would be his first game of the 2019 season.
Salford 19-man squad: Evalds, Chamberlain, Welham, Bibby, Lui, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Murray, Olpherts, Sio, Turgut, Lawton, Hastings.
Wingers Joe Burgess and Dom Manfredi are both included in the matchday squad. Burgess has been sidelined for 11 months with an ACL injury and Manfredi returns after missing the last two weeks with a mouth injury.
Taulima Tautai serves the second match of his three game suspension and Sam Powell and Morgan Escare are sidelined.
Wigan 19-man squad: Bullock, Burgess, Byrne, Clubb, Davies, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hamlin, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Manfredi, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Sammut, Sarginson, Shorrocks, Williams.
HEAD TO HEAD
History is against the Salford side, with Wigan winning eight of their last ten meetings between the two. In their last visit to the AJ Bell Stadium, Wigan ran out 40-12 leaders in round 1 of the 2018 season.
In the reverse fixture, Salford were nilled on their visit to the DW Stadium, losing 30-0. Although the stats aren’t on their side, Salford have the better form in 2019 and that still counts.
Niall Evalds (Salford) v Zak Hardaker (Wigan)
Niall Evalds has really come into his own in the past 18 months or so, showing the homegrown talent that they can produce. He can be just as dynamic at fullback as any other fullback in the competition. Between himself, Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui, the trio have been the catalyst for all Salford attack.
Zak Hardaker is the one that many rugby league fans love to hate. Despite his history of controversy, he has taken his last chance saloon at Wigan and so far, he is proving why Adrian Lam took a chance on keeping him at the club. He has taken a while to gel into the team but he seems to have settled in now and now he can get back to what we know he can do.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 24th March
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
It’s a tough one because we all know the tide will turn for Wigan soon. I see Salford having home advantage as a huge plus for this one but it should be a close one. Salford win by 6-10 points.