We look at what’s being said ahead of Friday’s live Super League double-header, with Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants playing in a re-arranged match followed by the derby between St Helens and Wigan Warriors…
Warrington Wolves vs Huddersfield Giants (5.30pm)
There was a time on Wednesday morning where it looked as if Warrington’s wait to get back on the field would go on after scheduled opponents Salford Red Devils forfeited Friday’s Super League fixture due to a player shortage.
Rather than just take the 24-0 win and face a further wait, the Wolves have since had their Round 21 fixture against Huddersfield Giants brought forward after the Yorkshire side’s clash with Castleford Tigers was called off due to 12 positive Covid-19 tests at the Tigers.
Warrington Wolves vs Huddersfield Giants
October 30, 2020, 5:25pm
It will be their first game since October 13 following the trip to Catalans Dragons being called off due to positive coronavirus tests as well, although Steve Price has been utilising the time without a match to good effect.
“We’ve had the opportunity to get a fair bit of block training and scrimmage sessions as well,” Wolves head coach Price told the Warrington Guardian.
“We were all gutted to not play, but we had some really high-intensity sessions and have got some good work into the boys. We can’t wait for Friday now.”
Ben Murdoch-Masila, Blake Austin, Mike Cooper and Joe Philbin all return to Warrington’s 21-man squad after not featuring in the 32-6 win over Leeds Rhinos just over two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Leroy Cudjoe could make his 300th appearance for Huddersfield in the match, having spent his entire career with his hometown club since making his professional debut in the first match of the 2008 Super League season.
The Giants are boosted by the return of Darnell McIntosh and Jermaine McGillvary to their back line as well, although they have had one positive Covid-19 tests which fortunately has not had a knock-on effect.
“We’ve had one positive test from a non-playing squad member,” Huddersfield’s acting head coach Luke Robinson said. “It’s an isolated case so he’s pretty much had no contact with any other player.”
Warrington Wolves: Blake Austin, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Matt Davis, Anthony Gelling, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Luis Johnson, Toby King, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Ellis Robson, Nathan Roebuck, Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker, Gareth Widdop.
Huddersfield Giants: Ashton Golding, Jermaine McGillvary, Jacob Wardle, Jordan Turner, Darnell McIntosh, Lee Gaskell, Aidan Sezer, James Gavet, Suaia Matagi, Kenny Edwards, Joe Wardle, Michael Lawrence, Matty English, Oliver Wilson, Ukuma Ta’ai, Leroy Cudjoe, Oliver Russell, Sam Hewitt, Sam Wood, Chris McQueen, Brandon Moore.
St Helens vs Wigan Warriors (7.45pm)
Unless St Helens and Wigan end up facing each other in the Super League play-offs, Friday is likely to mark the final derby appearance for James Graham following his decision to retire at the end of the current season.
Graham has been a regular in the Saints side since returning to the club earlier this year, including featuring in the 42-0 win over their old rivals just over one month ago, but has decided to bring his 17-year professional career to a close at the end of the season.
Head coach Kristian Woolf has been hugely impressed with the 35-year-old’s contribution during his second spell at St Helens and is eager to ensure he bows out on a high, starting with another win over Wigan.
St Helens vs Wigan Warriors
October 30, 2020, 7:45pm
“It’s been a real privilege for me to be able to deal with him over the last few weeks and I wish I had more time with him,” Woolf said. “He’s a great person, he’s great around the group, he’s a terrific player.
“Just the intensity he gets out of himself every week, for both training and playing, is the best example a young bloke in our game could possibly get.
“I’m sad to see he is going to finish this year, but I’m really happy with the fact we’ve got a few more games he can be a part of us and we get to share that with him, and I certainly know the rest of the group want to make sure he goes out in a positive way.”
Woolf has recalled Lachlan Coote, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, James Roby, Zeb Taia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Matty Lees to his squad after fielding a youthful line-up in Monday’s 12-10 defeat to Salford Red Devils.
Opposite number Adrian Lam will be fielding a much more experienced side than when Wigan face Saints in September, having rotated his squad that night with an eye on the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
That was the Warriors’ fifth-straight loss in the derby clash and ex-Wigan half-back Lam wants to put that behind them when Super League’s top two go head-to-head.
“Going there is a great challenge for us and I think we’re due,” Lam said. “We want to play in these big games, it’s a massive arch-rival of ours.
“The supporters show their true colours in these situations and they can’t be there, so we need to give a good performance for them.
“Most importantly we need to keep our season on track. We’ve a chance of going to the top of the table after this win so it’s important that we do everything right.”
St Helens: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, James Roby, Zeb Taia, Dom Peyroux, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, Kyle Amor, Joseph Paulo, James Bentley, Jack Welsby, Josh Eaves, Josh Simm, Lewis Dodd, Jake Wingfield, James Graham.
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Chris Hankinson, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Bevan French, Tommy Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, George Burgess, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood, Morgan Smithies, Oliver Partington, Joe Bullock, Liam Byrne, Jake Bibby, Harry Smith, Jackson Hastings, Brad Singleton.
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