Wigan’s two rivals for the League Leaders’ Trophy have the opportunity to step up the pressure this weekend. With the Warriors not going to St Helens until Monday night, both Huddersfield and Warrington have the chance to steal a march on them tomorrow.
The Giants will go top if they beat Castleford, and they also have a disappointing Challenge Cup performance at Warrington to get out of their system.
“We really do feel that we owe our supporters a special performance,” the Huddersfield captain, Danny Brough, said yesterday. “We’re very confident that’s exactly what we’re going to do, because we’ve so much left to play for in Super League this season.”
Warrington would need a massive win over Hull KR to put them above Wigan, but victory would put them level with the Super League leaders on points. The Wolves, with a Cup semi-final against Hull to look forward to next weekend, have Ben Harrison available tomorrow, after a 14-week absence with a hernia.
Rovers, relatively secure in the top eight for the play-offs, have had a boost this week with the signing of the former Australian Test prop Michael Weyman from St George Illawarra, on a two-year contract, starting next season. That will help to offset the losses from their squad that are looming, with Michael Dobson, Corey Patterson and Mickey Paea all destined to play their rugby elsewhere next season.
The Super League programme leaves the decks clear today for the final of the Northern Rail Trophy, played for the first time at Halifax, having moved from its usual home at Blackpool.
Leigh and Sheffield Eagles are the two clubs deprived of a cooling trip to the seaside. This has been a particularly pivotal week for the Eagles, who fancied their chances of reaching the Challenge Cup semi-finals, but fell short against the vulnerable London Broncos.
Better news was the decision of their star player, the Papua New Guinean centre Menzie Yere, to extend his stay with the club.
Leigh will look to the exceptional pace of their young half-back Ryan Brierley, who has turned down the chance to return to Castleford, from whom he was on loan.
Their match is preceded by the first-ever Northern Rail Bowl, between the London Skolars and the North Wales Crusaders, two clubs who have proved that it is possible to operate outside the mainstream and be successful in their own terms.