Well I'd normally write a preview for a Sunday game on a Thursday
Night but I delayed it this week as I didn't have a clue who would
be in the 19 man squad. How glad I am now because the early
signing of next years recruit Matty Smith has completely changed
the complexion of this trip to Wakefield.|
Whether he is a good
signing or not remains to be seen. Salford are barely televised by
Sky, so I can't really draw my own conclusions before seeing him
in our kit. Seemed to do alright for Saints at the back of 2010
Smith comes straight into the Wigan team for this game with Sam
Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Chris Tuson also back in the 19 man
squad. However, Josh Charnley (calf), Mike McIlorum ("knock") and
Jack Hughes drop out of the 19 whilst youngster Rhodri Lloyd is
Darrell Goulding is included but it's likely he won't be risked
and Iain Thornley will debut at right centre following his return
from Sale Sharks. Thornley was part of our academy set up between
2008 and 2010 before leaving for Sale. He returned here in May but
has only made one 13 a side appearance since then, last Saturday
at Wigan Rugby Union for the Under 20s against Bradford. He did
play in a few of the "nines series" rounds though.
With Sam Tomkins returning at full back, I suspect Jack Murphy
will switch to replace Josh Charnley on the right wing. Not a
natural winger but Waney doesn't seem to be fancying Ryan King, on
the evidence of this 19 man squad, so I can't see who else would
fit on the wing in Charnley's absence?
The other question is who will goal kick? Murphy has been the
main goal kicker for the Under 20s in the past two seasons whilst
Sam Tomkins and now Matty Smith offer other options. Smith has
kicked 19 goals in his career so far.
Overall I don't think the squad is too bad. The returns offset
the losses for this particular game, but I do expect a tough
afternoon at Wakefield, particularly if the weather continues to
be poor. I expect a win but this could be a long hard slog in the
Having lost last time out, Wigan play here looking to avoid
losing two matches in a row in Super League for the first time
since May 2009. We've shown great bouncebackability every time
we've lost since then and with 2nd and 3rd (Warrington v Catalan)
playing in Sky's Monday Night game, it'll be nice to get 5 points
clear before those two meet.
I fully understand, and agree, that the Cup Semi is far more
important but we don't want to slip up further because, although
we have a three point lead, Catalan do have a game in hand and
might well sniff catching us for 1st place if results this weekend
go their way!
So this is an important match I think to make
things very easy for us in the league run in. Matty Smith getting
in the halves and Sean O'Loughlin returning to Loose Forward
should help massively and Sam Tomkins will hopefully have
benefited from a fortnight off.
Wakefield are clearly well off
the pace for the top 8 this year but I think they are doing an
admirable job this season. I've been a long time critic of them,
particularly for that god awful ground, but at least they are
making an effort since new owners came in following last year's
For example the old away terrace now has
a roof! Granted it is a dirt cheap effort but nethertheless
compared to other West Yorkshire standards, we'll welcome it with
the rancid rain around at the moment.
Wigan though need to be professional. I talked about 2nd and
3rd and they both have sweated in matches against Wakefield this
year. Richard Agar's side were robbed blind by a Thierry Alibert
"7th tackle" in losing 32-30 at Warrington, but they did beat
Catalan at home.
Ex Warriors Richard Mathers and Tim Smith might have a point to
prove also but Wigan should have too much, whatever the weather! I
wouldn't back my "statistical prediction" of 28-30 points though.
Reckon half that might be more realistic. But we shall see!