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St Helens v Wigan – Round 1 Preview

Opponents:St Helens

Date:31.01.2019

Venue:Totally Wicked Stadium

Tickets:http://www.wiganwarriors.com/tickets

Preview Show – Wednesday 8pm at https://facebook.com/wiganrugbyfans/videos/779469835745555/ 

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A look at the Opposition

The nearly men, the chokers – whatever label you throw at St Helens in the past few years, they are a very good team nevertheless! They blew everyone away in the early parts of the 2018 season and then came the Catalans Dragons, a semi-final humiliation at the hands of the brutal Dragons created the blueprint for others to beat Saints and damaged their confidence to a level that was perhaps unrecoverable for the 2018 season.

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Ben Barba has gone but in his place in NRL winner, Lachlan Coote and add to that Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama and a very good back line looks even more impressive and if not, better balanced for 2019. The return of Alex Walmsley of which I am sure every rugby league fan no matter of their team, is delighted to see him back after a broken neck, Joseph Paulo and you have the redress on paper, to perhaps their weakness in 2018 – a stronger pack.

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Justin Holbrook has revitalised the Saints after the Cunningham experiment went so wrong and they are surely going to be there or thereabouts again, it is Saints so probably thereabouts is the expectancy 😉 .

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Team News

Adrian Lam picks his first Wigan squad for a competitive game and there are doubts over Morgan Escare who sustained a knock in the mudbath against against Barrow last week and Liam Marshall is set to make his return from injury in place of Dom Manfredi who is out injured due to fluid on his knee.

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Justin Holbrook has suggested that Theo Farges may come into the side ahead of 2018 Dream Team member, Danny Richardson. One topic that has caused quite a bit of debate over at our friends, Red Vee – enjoy this thread:

Justin Holbrook will name his side from the following squad

1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Joseph Paulo, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dom Peyroux, 19. Matty Lees, 20. Jack Ashworth, 23.Lachlan Coote.

 Thoughts on the Game

First game of the season, away, as Champions, against your nearest and dearest – BRING.IT.ON!

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A new era, a new beginning it this message from the Super League and it is also a message from Wigan with their new look star players and a new coach. However, I expect Wigan to be very much like a 2018 version of themselves in the first month of the season. Adrian Lam has openly discussed wanting to play a more attacking, expansive style of rugby but he has also pointed out that, that may not be possible until we have a drier field and better conditions. Snow is forecast and the season is kicking off in January – it could be very much a case of the side that plays the simplest and error-free rugby will win.

That is not to say that I can’t imagine that George Williams has been given the instruction of, if you see something maybe on – go for it. Other than that, keep to the plan and keep to the structure.

Neither side will really know what to expect from each other, the key clashes being how does Hardaker slot into Wigan’s attack and the same for Coote with St Helens. Whichever team gets the best out of their star player in the fullback role, will win.

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Golden point is on the cards for the first time in a regular season game and I wouldn’t bet against us experiencing the trials and tribulations of what golden point will bring on Thursday evening.

Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Sunday would be the same as last week:

FB. Hardaker

W. Davies

C. Gildart

C. Sarginson

W. Marshall

S/O. Williams

S/H. Leuluai

P. Flower

H. Powell

P. Clubb

S/R. Isa

S/R. Farrell

L/F. O’Loughlin

I/C. Hamlin

I/C. Greenwood

I/C. Bullock

I/C. Escare

Prediction

Score:St Helens 12 – 13 Wigan

First Try Scorer:Z. Hardaker

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