Second-placed Wigan and third-placed Castleford meet in the first week of the Super 8s. Here’s everything you need to know…
In the week in which his successors as Wigan head coach were named, Shaun Wane starts the Super 8s campaign with what could be a crucial game in the battle for a home semi-final in the play-offs.
There is great news for the Warriors as stand-off George Williams and prop Ryan Sutton both return to the squad having recovered from long-term knee injuries. Both had been ever-present in Super League this season before being forced onto the sidelines.
They take the places of Chris Hankinson, ruled out through an eye injury, and the suspended Taulima Tautai. The likes of Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Liam Farrell and captain Sean O’Loughlin all remain out of action.
Wigan 19-man squad: Tomkins, Davies, Sarginson, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Bateman, Sutton, Isa, Escare, Marshall, Navarrete, Hamlin, Woods, Partington, Kibula, Greenwood.
Head coach Daryl Powell makes three changes to his squad, with centre Jake Webster set for a return alongside Joe Wardle and Will Maher.
Peter Mata’utia is ruled out with a hamstring strain, while Calum Turner and Jacques O’Neill also drop out.
Powell said this week that last year’s Man of Steel Luke Gale is closing in on a return to action, and could potentially make his comeback in the week following the Challenge Cup final. For now Cas must continue without him, along with the likes of Ben Roberts, Greg Minikin and Grant Millington.
Castleford 19-man squad: Webster, Shenton, Eden, Ellis, Moors, McShane, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Wardle, Trueman, Clark, Maher, Clare, Gill, Watts, Laulu-Togagae.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the third match between the sides this season and the head-to-head stands at 1-1.
The home side has come out on top on both occasions, with Cas edging the most recent clash at the Jungle thanks to a Jamie Ellis drop goal in the final minute to seal a 19-18 victory.
Wigan won 28-12 when they met at the DW Stadium back in April, but that is the Warriors’ only win over the Tigers in the last six meetings.
KEY BATTLE – George Williams vs Jake Trueman
The big news coming into this one is the return from injury of Williams, whose creative influence has been sorely missed in the past six matches.
The clash with Leeds besides, Wigan have really struggled for points without the half-back who has registered 17 try assists in as many Super League games this season.
Williams is the established England star and he comes up against a potential international player in Jake Trueman.
The absence of Luke Gale for much of the season has put a lot of pressure on his 19-year-old shoulders, but he has excelled at both full-back and then in the halves with 16 assists, and he’s got four tries himself in the last four games as well.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 10th August
Venue: DW Stadium
Referee: James Child