Business as usual for Wigan as an era ends

Rugby League

Whatever ideas clubs might come up with to try to tag their Christmas paydays on to a summer season, today's Boxing Day fixtures are the last in the league and, in all probability, the last that can ever be said to mean anything.

There will be the bitter-sweet flavour of an era ending, therefore, at grounds like Headingley and Central Park, when a tradition almost as old as the game itself comes to a full stop.

For Wigan, though, it is very much business as usual. Even if they were to lose to St Helens today - and anything is possible on Boxing Day, as the last 100 years have demonstrated - they would still need only five points from their last four matches to win the Stones Centenary Championship, and that is assuming that Saints or Leeds win all their remaining games.

Wigan hope to have Shaun Edwards back after missing last Sunday's pre- festive hiccup at Oldham, but Kelvin Skerrett is likely to be missing, Gary Connolly has a suspect groin and Craig Murdock could be out for the rest of this transitional season with a hamstring injury.

The Wigan coach, Graeme West, believes that the astonishing defeat at Watersheddings has acted as a wake-up call to a side who were not playing well, reminding them that the title is not safe yet - not quite.

Saints' injury problems, however, make Wigan's pale into insignificance. Their coach, Eric Hughes, already knows that he will be without key players of the calibre of Paul Newlove, Anthony Sullivan, Chris Joynt and the suspended Bobbie Goulding. He has a number of other players struggling for fitness as well and it could be a very patched-up St Helens side that takes the field at Central Park.

Dean Bell's dissatisfaction with his Leeds squad has been shown over the last week by his approaches for the Batley scrum-half, Glen Tomlinson, and the Salford three-quarter, Nathan McEvoy.

An pounds 80,000 cash bid has failed to secure Tomlinson, however, and Salford were immune to the charms of an offer which would have seen highly experienced internationals like Alan Tait, Richie Eyres and Harvey Howard heading for The Willows.

For the present, Bell must make do with what he has, which, to most clubs, would look rather a lot. For the traditional morning kick-off against Castleford, he hopes to have the much-missed Garry Schofield and Tony Kemp back after injury, although both they and Marvin Golden face fitness tests.

Castleford had hoped to have Frano Botica fit to make his first appearance in their colours, but his progress in recovering from a particularly badly broken leg has not been quite rapid enough. He could be in contention by New Year. In the meantime, another New Zealander, Brendon Tuuta, could return after a seven-week absence. A former Castleford player, St John Ellis, is in line to make his debut for his new club, Halifax, against the Bradford Bulls, who allowed him to move the short distance between the two towns this weekend.

Ellis, aged 31, joined Bradford at the start of this campaign after returning from a season with the South Queensland Crushers, but his opportunities look limited now that the Bulls have acquired another goal-kicking winger, Paul Cook, from Leeds.

Ellis has initially joined Halifax for the remainder of the Centenary season, with a view to a longer-term deal.

In the other top division game today, Warrington could have three first- teamers available again after injury, in the shape of Gary Chambers, Kelly Shelford and Mark Forster, for their visit to Oldham.

The home side could have the rare luxury of fielding the same side that stunned Wigan nine days ago, with only their loose forward, Howard Hill - one of the notable successes among their younger players this season - the only doubtful starter.

In the First Division, Salford would tighten their grip on the top spot considerably if they could win at Widnes.

Although there have been repeated assurances that Paris will have their side ready for the start of Super League in March, the absence of any announcements on a coach or any players will keep hope alive for the winner of the division that they could be promoted to fill the void.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game