|All the pre match talk at
the JJB has been about another injury crisis.
More than 10 players are
doubtful for Friday's match according to Coach Stuart Raper. But I
expect Kris Radlinski, Mark Smith, Craig Smith, Paul Johnson and
Danny Tickle will recover to play in this match.
But the likes of Dave
Hodgson, Stephen Wild, Gareth Hock, Luke Robinson, Andy Farrell,
Mick Cassidy, Jamie Ainscough and Brett Dallas are not likely to
This means Raper will have
to delve deeper into our youth ranks. Teenagers Kevin Brown, Dave
Allen and Mark Roberts were all left out of Wednesday Nights Under
21s match against St Helens so they can be on stand by for the first
Both Brown and Allen are
expected to be given debuts from the substitutes bench.
Coach Raper said: "They are very
young, but mature beyond their years. I did intend to give them both
some first-team footie this year, but their time has come early
because of our huge injury problems. They can handle it, in fact,
they're both looking forward to it."
It's a bit harsh having to debut
against Saints but maybe that will inspire them further.
Raper has also considered
loaning in players from Orrell including ex Warriors Simon Haughton,
Wes Davies and Phil Jones. But Orrell coach Ross Reynolds says his
side is also injury stricken and he is only prepared to release
former Wigan Academy centre Jon Whittle. He has trained with the
club all week but it hasn't been decided if he will be used or not.
I said in last weeks match
preview I wouldn't be surprised if Andy Farrell played in the cup
semi. Of course he didn't but maybe this week if our situation is as
bad as is being made out then we may have to throw him in?
Saints coach Ian Millward
believes Wigan are playing mind games.
"We're expecting them to be stronger
than they are making out and St Helens fans should disregard any of
the pre-match talk from the Wigan camp. We're expecting both Brett
Dallas and Jamie Ainscough to be back playing and they've got plenty
of other top players with the likes of Johnson, Carney, Newton,
O'Connor, Smith and Lam. That's eight internationals and any team
that can field eight internationals has to be a world-class team."
In the last few derby matches home
advantage has been crucial. The last 7 Super League Wigan v Saints
clashes have all been won by the home side. The last time a visiting
side won was 22nd June 2001 when Andy Farrell's 40 metre drop goal
proved the difference in a 29-28 win at Knowsley Road.
Saints haven't won at the JJB in over
two and half years. That was a best forgotten play off match which
they won 54-16. They did manage a draw on Good Friday two years a go
but since then they come away from the JJB with nothing.
In fact in Saints last four visits to
Wigan the aggregate score has been 154-32 in our favour. But I would
expect them to compete this time especially with so many players
Form coming into the game, as you all
know, is not good for either side. Both have lost three on the
bounce. I doubt that has ever happened before coming into a derby.
One side will end up losing an unbelievable fourth game in a row. I
just hope it isn't Wigan!
Enjoy the game!
Opposition One to
Released by Wigan at the end of
last year and immediately moved to Saints.
Many believed he shouldn't have been let go and he'll have
something to prove in this match. May only appear has a
SQUAD NUMBER: 22