Challenge Cup finalists Warrington and Catalans battle it out in round one of the Super 8s. Here’s everything you need to know…
Bodene Thompson is set to make his debut for his new club, as he is one of three changes for Steve Price’s side. Also coming into the side is Sitaleki Akauola and Morgan Smith, replacing Stefan Ratchford, Mike Cooper and Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Following on from last week’s emphatic win over Leeds, Warrington will be looking to make it two from two in August, and get one over their Wembley opponents.
Warrington 19-man squad: Akauola, K. Brown, M. Brown, Charnley, Clark, Goodwin, Hill, Hughes, G. King, T. King, Lineham, Livett, Patton, Philbin, Pomeroy, Roberts, Smith, Thompson, Westwood.
Following their shock win last week against St Helens Steve McNamara has made several changes to his side, with Sam Moa, Louis Anderson, Julien Bousquet, Lewis Tierney, Benjamin Jullien, Tony Gigot and Josh Drinkwater all given a breather.
They are replaced by Ian Thornley, Vincent Duport, Alex Da Costa, Lambert Belmas, Thibaud Margaret and Ugo Perez.
Catalans will be looking to continue the recent form that has seen them go from bottom in April to eighth come Round 23. In that spell, they have only lost twice.
Catalans 19-man squad: Mead, Thornley, Wiliame, Yaha, Langi, Casty, Garcia, Simon, Duport, Baitieri, Margalet, McIlorum, Albert, Maria, Da Costa, Belmas, Perez, Goudemand, Edwards.
Both sides have faced each other twice so far this season with Warrington nilling the Dragons in Perpignan back in March, and honours finishing even following some poor drop goals attempts last month.
Warrington have been the in-form team when these two sides have met, with the Wire winning eight of the last ten clashes. Catalans have failed to win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in their last nine attempts, stretching back to 2011.
Warrington currently lie fourth, and other than a blip in July, have won 18 games in all competitions and are two weeks away from their fifth Wembley Appearance in ten years. Catalans sit eighth but have earned 13 wins in their last 16 games, and are preparing for their second major final.
This could be an interesting insight into who will celebrating under the famous arches!
KEY BATTLE – Daryl Clark vs Michael McIlorum
The battle between the hookers will be key in this one. In the home corner is Daryl Clark, the 2014 Man of Steel who has hit his best form in years. Leading the way for most tackles this year, the Wolves number nine has also shown his attacking flair and the ability to break down defences with ease.
His opposite number is Michael McIlorum. The former Wigan player has settled into life in the South of France well. Since moving last year, he has brought a new style to the Catalan attack with his experience second to none. He will need to be on top form in this one, especially as Josh Drinkwater isn’t playing.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 10th August
Venue: Haliwell Jones Stadium
Referee: Ben Thaler