Vikings' mission improbable

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The Independent Online

Today, they must regroup to face their in-form neighbours Warrington, and they must do it without the reassuring presence of Gary Connolly, who picked up an injury in France.

The club have been busy signing and re-signing players for next season, notably the crowd-pleasing Cronulla full-back David Peachey. Simon Finnigan and Mark Smith have agreed contract extensions, a week after Mick Cassidy did the same. That all depends, however, on them clambering out of the lower reaches of Super League.

Warrington, who have been busy signing another Cronulla player, Michael Sullivan, and extending the contracts of three overseas players - Chris Leikvoll, Danny Lima and Toa Kohe-Love - are running third, and it would be a major shock if Widnes were to get anything out of them.

Wakefield, a point ahead, have an even more formidable task as they line up for the first time under the coaching of the former Castleford and Wigan scrum-half Tony Smith. Smith has been given three matches to show that he should succeed Shane McNally, sacked months after being named as Super League's coach of the year in 2004.

The first of those games is against St Helens, who showed a streak of ruthlessness as wide as the M62 in putting 75 points past Wigan last week. Admittedly, Saints are without their first-choice half-backs, Jason Hooper and Sean Long, for the next month, but they remain fiendishly difficult opponents for a side with relegation worries. The Academy internationals Scott Moore and Matty Smith are promoted to the first-team squad, while Kevin Henderson is set to make his debut for Trinity.

The former South Sydney and Newcastle second-row or centre, who started the season at Leigh but was then injured, will become the third Henderson brother in action this weekend, following the Castleford hooker, Andrew, and Ian, who made his debut for Bradford on Friday.