Jack Walker previews Super League’s 2020 curtain-raiser between Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves. This is what we have to look forward to.
After a dreadful start to their 2019 campaign, the Warriors will be looking for a much better beginning to the new year. However, injuries to key players is going to make that tricky.
Warrington suffered no such misfortune last term and will be disappointed that they didn’t truly challenge for a place in the top two despite being only two points and two places behind Wigan in the summer. Another strong start to their season would do just nicely as they aim to improve on last term’s benchmark.
Influential centre Oliver Gildart misses the game with a dislocated shoulder suffered in pre-season and is expect to miss the next month or so of action.
Winger Dom Manfredi and prop Ben Flower join Gildart on the injury list as all three are absent for the first Super League game of the season.
However, new signing George Burgess is in line to make his first Wigan appearance – as is current Man of Steel Jackson Hastings following his move from Grand Finalists Salford.
Wolves’ co-captain Jack Hughes has not yet recovered from a hernia operation and is unable to face his old employers at the DW Stadium.
Summer additions Gareth Widdop and Leilani Latu also aren’t included in Steve Price’s 21-man squad, despite the Head Coach hinting that they were in contention.
But debutantes Matty Ashton and Anthony Gelling are both set to make their Warrington bows. Ashton is expected to start at full-back meaning Stefan Ratchford moves alongside Blake Austin in the halves.
The losing side has only failed to score once in the last 4 years when these two sides meet – Warrington hammered the Warriors 23-0 back in June 2018.
The side at home have also scored at least three tries in every regular-season encounter since 2014.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Stefan Ratchford scored a try and kicked five goals in the 25-12 win over Wigan on home soil back in March, with Zak Hardaker equalling that total as the Warriors tamed the Wolves 20-6 at the DW in August. Both players are arguably their sides’ most influential players and with Hardaker now having Hastings in a supporting role, Ratchford will have to match them both if Warrington are to prevail.
Date: 30 January 2020
Venue: DW Stadium