Wigan this week face Swinton in the Challenge Cup, away at Haywood Road and if ever there was a need to take a break from the Super League – it is now for Wigan. With the amount on injuries stacking up, you would imagine any side in Super League would fancy playing Wigan at this moment in time. Whilst Swinton are a Championship side, they have knocked Huddersfield out of the cup already, so I am expecting a tough game for Wigan on Sunday.
Sunday is the perfect opportunity for some of the younger lads in the squad to play at a level they should feel more comfortable at, no disrespect to Swinton but they do themselves rely on Wigan’s Under 19’s to add depth to their squad with the likes of Josh Woods, Caine Barnes and Romain Navarrete having played for Swinton so far this season.
With Warrington and St Helens to come in the next three weeks, Wigan will be hopeful that players like Sam Tomkins and George Williams may be close to making a return for those games but players such as Josh Ganson and Joe Bretherton should take their opportunity against Swinton to ensure they are confident after a brutal two weeks, going into those games.
One player who has played for the Wigan Reserves this year despite being a Swinton player, is Luke Waterworth and he will look to cause Wigan some problems on Sunday. A highly rated hooker during his time at Wigan, his move to Swinton looks to have come at a good time for his career and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a Super League player over the next few years. The fact that Wigan have invited him to play in their Reserve team this year after being released by the club last season, suggests that Wigan may think he also has a Super League future. His battle with Josh Ganson, perhaps the player that has replaced him at Wigan, will be interesting to watch. Waterworth scored Swinton’s winning try at Huddersfield and is a danger man for Wigan to stop.
The expected return of Sean O’Loughlin and Michael McIlorum should ensure that Wigan are victorious on Sunday and can progress to the next round of the Challenge Cup. Wigan need to take full advantage of the favourable draw which should mean a safe passage to the quarter finals in which they may, fingers crossed, have some bodies back by the time the fixtures are played on the weekend of the 17th/18th June.