St. Helens look to secure the League Leaders Shield against rivals Wigan. Here’s everything you need to know…
Saints have been boosted by the return of duo Ryan Morgan and Luke Thompson, with Matty Smith and Aaron Smith dropping out of the 19-man squad from the win over Wakefield two weeks ago.
Morgan returns after missing several weeks through concussion complications while Thompson served a one-match ban following the side’s loss to Huddersfield.
St. Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Thompson, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Ashworth, Barba, Costello
Shaun Wane has also been lifted as captain Sean O’Loughlin and Oliver Gildart both return to a squad which sees Craig Mullen and Liam Marshall drop out.
Chris Hankinson, Taulima Tautai, Liam Farrell and Joe Burgess remain sidelined through injury for the visitors as they look to continue their good form in the Super 8s.
Wigan 19-man squad: Bateman, Clubb, Davies, Escare, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hamlin, Isa, Kibula, Leuluai, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Partington, Powell, Sarginson, Sutton, Tomkins, Williams
Billed as one of if not the biggest derby in rugby league, no matter the positions of these sides this game always comes with a certain air of excitement.
Adding to this fixture is the opportunity for St. Helens to land their first League Leaders Shield since 2014, while Wigan look to consolidate second spot in the table and a home semi-final.
St. Helens fine season has seen them get the better of their neighbours twice already this season, home and away, but over their last six meetings the sides are tied with three wins apiece, Wigan scoring just one more try (16) than Saints in that time.
KEY BATTLE – Ben Barba vs Sam Tomkins
Whichever side wins the battle in the middle of the pitch will lay the platform for the star men to perform, with a former Man of Steel up against a man in contention for this year’s award.
Despite his dip in form and the constant questions on his future, on his day Barba can be the most devastating player in the competition, while Tomkins remains one of the most hungry and determined players in the game.
Leading the competition in tries (24) and assists (23) Barba has had a stellar season, while in his last five games he has still registered four tries and two assists.
In comparison, Tomkins has chipped in with three tries and three assists in that time, including a try in the previous game against St. Helens.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 31st August
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall