Jack Walker previews tonight’s game between Wigan Warriors and Super League new-comers Toronto Wolfpack.
After starting the season with a brilliant 16-10 win over Warrington Wolves, Wigan fell to defeat at the hands of Castleford Tigers. Sloppy defensive errors cost the Warriors near as two penalties made the difference in the 16-12 loss.
The Wolfpack, who were promoted last season, have lost their first two difficult Super League games: 10-28 at home to Castleford and away at Salford, 24-16.
England star George Burgess is big miss for tonight’s game – the prop is out with a hip injury.
Hooker Sam Powell (head knock) and Jake Shorrocks, who suffered a calf strain in the defeat at Castleford last time out, are also unavailable.
Wigan Warriors 21-man squad: Hardaker, Marshall, Hankinson, Burgess, French, Leuluai, Clubb, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Greenwood, Smithies, Partington, Bullock, Byrne, Clark, Bibby, Smith, Havard, Hastings, Bourouh.
Sonny Bill Williams will not feature for Toronto.
The New Zealander is not injured, but has returned to his native country for the birth of his child.
The forward should be back for their game against Warrington next time out.
Toronto Wolfpack 21-man squad: O’Brien, Russell, Leutele, Kay, Mellor, McCrone, Sidlow, Ackers, Mullally, Dixon, Thompson, Wilkin, Springer, Olbison, Wallace, Singleton, Wheeler, Cunningham, Miloudi.
These two sides have never met before, in any competition, and so it will be interesting to see how they match up. Of course, a Wigan win is expected, but the Wolfpack are determined to show what they’re made of and it would be a great story if, having lost their opening two matches, they were to take victory in the first ever meeting.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) vs Blake Wallace (Toronto Wolfpack)
This one isn’t a one-on-one positional battle, but instead reflects the nature of the two sides’ play.
Wigan’s influential winger was on the scoresheet on the opening night of the season and looked a real threat in the defeat to Castleford, whereas Wallace has kicked three goals in the first two matches for Toronto.
That might not be a big number, but a conversion rate of 75% is crucial for any side to capitalise fully from scoring, let alone a side promoted last year.
Both men are equally important to not only their sides’ performances, but results, so let’s see who comes out on top come 10pm tonight.
Date: Thursday, 13 February
Venue: DW Stadium