Sunday Preview: Noble and Wigan inch towards the safety zone

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The Independent Online

Wigan can take another step towards Super League safety if they can win a sixth game in a row at Warrington today. The arrivals of Brian Noble to coach the side and Stuart Fielden to lead it from the front appear to have worked for the Warriors, who looked close to doomed a few weeks ago.

By their own admission, they are still not playing brilliantly, but they are doing the basics well enough to win games. For this afternoon's trip, Noble might recall Pat Richards, whose omission from the past four games has sparked rumours of a return to his Australian club, Wests Tigers.

Wigan took a further small step towards balancing their salary cap last week by releasing Sean Gleeson to join Widnes on loan. With Kris Radlinski and Nathan McAvoy forming a stable partnership in the centres, he is one of a number of young players who have found their opportunities disappearing as Wigan rely on experience to dig them out of trouble.

Warrington, depleted and out of form, will have Mark Gleeson - Sean's cousin - back from a hand injury today, allowing Michael Sullivan to move to scrum-half in place of Simon Grix, who has had a shoulder reconstruction.

Today's other game will see either Huddersfield or Castleford able to look forward with some confidence to playing in Super League next season. That would be particularly praiseworthy for Cas, favourites for relegation when they were promoted for this campaign. Under their impressive coach, Terry Matterson, they have recruited shrewdly and have drawn better performances than could be expected from what looked an uneven squad.

For today's game at the Galpharm, Matterson has the versatile Deon Bird back in contention. Huddersfield have Keith Mason back after injury. He and Jon Grayshon, returning after a period on loan to Batley, will be hoping to show that they are worth a place in next weekend's Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds.

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