Kelly expects Widnes to atone for defeat

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The Independent Online

The Widnes coach, Neil Kelly, has offered his players the chance to redeem themselves against Wigan today after a display he branded their worst since he took charge at the club.

The Widnes coach, Neil Kelly, has offered his players the chance to redeem themselves against Wigan today after a display he branded their worst since he took charge at the club.

Widnes were thrashed 34-6 by Warrington last weekend and Kelly said: "No coach could be happy with a performance like that, but it was so uncharacteristic that I'd like to think it was a one-off. I've said to them what needed to be said, but they know themselves that they fell well short of the standard they set."

Kelly added that he would not have made wholesale changes, even if he had the players to do so, but one has been forced on him by Steve McCurrie's groin injury. Ryan MacDonald will return for the first time since breaking his arm at the start of the season.

The Widnes coach has predicted a big match from Julian – now known officially as Jules – O'Neill, who faces his former club for the first time.

Wigan's coach, Stuart Raper, has warned his men to expect a backlash. "I think Neil Kelly was seething about their performance and they obviously will be trying to put a few things right," he said.

Raper could introduce yet another of Wigan's bumper crop of young players to first-team rugby, as Harrison Hansen, a loose forward and son of the former Swinton and Salford player, Shane Hansen, has been included in today's squad.

Sean O'Loughlin is Wigan's latest injury victim, who will miss the game with a damaged sternum. The versatile Paul Johnson moves to stand-off, with Gareth Hock coming into the second row.

Karl Pratt will return for Bradford at home to Castleford tomorrow evening, when the Bulls will parade the Challenge Cup before the game. Lee Harland is out for Castleford with a hamstring injury, but Michael Smith returns after flu.

The Huddersfield coach, Tony Smith, has given a vote of confidence to Hefin O'Hare after the Welsh winger's nightmare experience under the high kick against London. He retains his place in the side at Hull.

"We need to give him more support, but I still think he's a good player," said Smith, who hopes to make a signing this week to compensate for the decision of his second-row forward Anthony Colella to retire.

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