I've been going on for at least twelve months about the impressive
strength in depth of our squad but you don't ever expect to get so
many players all out a once.|
Sam Tomkins, Martin Gleeson, Pat
Richards, Paul Deacon, Stuart Fielden, Joel Tomkins, Brett Finch
and Eamon O'Carroll is a huge list of absences in anyone's book. I
mean Wigan have 7 of their first 17 squad numbers absent,
Huddersfield in comparison are missing just 1, and even that
absence is the Number 16 Andy Raleigh.
So realistically Wigan should have no chance of winning this
game. Would we fear Huddersfield is they came to Wigan without
Scott Grix, Leroy Cudjoe, David Hodgson, Kevin Brown, Danny
Brough, Eorl Crabtree and Luke O'Donnell? Or Warrington if they
had Brett Hodgson, Matt King, Joel Monaghan, Lee Briers, Richie
Myler, Adrian Morley and Ben Westwood all absent?
It's an easy one to answer isn't it! Neither of those sides
would come anywhere near to competing with absences like that, but
you know what, I reckon Wigan will give a damn good account of
themselves on Friday.
I've watched a lot of these kids over the past few years and I
know they'll have good games. Their is a huge difference between
coming into a side with huge pressure to bare but on Friday Wigan
have no pressure on to win the game. Huddersfield will be expected
to wipe the floor with us but it doesn't always go like that. Lest
we forget the brilliant day that was
Good Friday 2003.
One of the problems for Wigan is that Huddersfield's pack is on
fire. It leads the league in metres per ball carry and tackle
busts. Somehow we have to slow them down but in fairness the pack
isn't really my concern. Andy Coley, Paul Prescott, Jeff Lima,
Ryan Hoffman, Lee Mossop, Liam Farrell, Chris Tuson will more than
hold their own and if Dom Crosby is called upon he will plug a
gap. He's been doing great work in our Under 20s, especially
considering he only joined our academy system last year aged 19.
Not often you get players coming into the youth ranks at that age,
they normally get picked up early about age 16, so he has made
awesome progression in twelve months if he gets given his chance.
The coaching staff obviously think highly of him because he's
seemingly ahead of Ben Davies who made five substitute appearances
for the first team last season.
My biggest concern is direction on the last tackle. Against
Hull every single last tackle in an attacking area seemed to be a
bomb. I can't remember us trying a grubber. A bit of variety would
be good. Big onus on Thomas Leuluai here in the absence of both
Sam and Deacon.
Overall, we have to do what Hull did to us last Sunday.
Frustrate the hell of out Huddersfield. We don't need to play
dirty because if we do I think they could bully us, they like that
type of game. But we shouldn't be afraid to just find touch on the
last tackle. Keep turning them round, make the pace of the game
slow and that will help us to compete. Doing that will keep the
already sparse Huddersfield crowd quiet and that lack of
atmosphere so often rubs off on the team playing at home.
Yesterday, coach Maguire recalled 20 year old Joe Mellor from
his loan spell at Harlequins. Mellor had been playing Under 20s
down there until he got his debut off the bench at St Helens last
week. He was looking good for plenty of first team action here
last season until a broken knee cap meant he missed the whole of
the campaign except for three Under 20s games very late in the
season. It's an interesting recall because it suggests he will
play, or else what is the point? Big ask I think if he does start.
Another call up is 19 year old winger Ryan King. He's a good
pacey winger and last weekend he was dealing with bombs in the
Under 20s game very well indeed. It's a big difference though from
playing at Orrell to playing in front of 8,000ish at Huddersfield.
But like I said the pressure is off our team somewhat and that
should theoretically help him, if he gets picked.
The call up of King though is an interesting one because Josh
Charnley and Darrell Goulding out wide are pretty much set, you
would think, so who is he covering for? Is he going to drop Stefan
Marsh, play Josh Charnley at centre and King out wide? Or is Amos
Roberts going to miss out again and we'll be forced to perhaps
play Stefan Marsh at Full Back with Charnley at centre and King
I say an interesting choice because King has, pretty much, only
played wing in the academy grades. Matty Russell on paper, if your
just looking for an 18th/19th man to cover, would be a better
option because he has played in both the centres and on the wing
last year in the academy grades before converting to Full Back
this year. He offers more cover, across positions, than King for
me so it's just left me thinking that King will actually come in
and play on the wing somehow. We shall see! Other academy watchers
may have a different view. It's an interesting discussion I think
Anyway.....like I said, despite the absences I think we'll give
a great account of ourselves. I'm not expecting a win, but it
wouldn't surprise me if it happened. If things do go tits up
though I hope we won't get any moping about from Wigan fans.
That's what Leeds fans were doing
last year when they came to the DW with a similar lengthy
injury list. "Oh we got injuries", "oh poor us", we never heard
the end of it and they didn't shout a dicky bird all night expect
when they scored. If the chips go down for us let's shout the
stand down and have a party because whatever happens we will
always be the current champions. :)