Wakefield aim to wreck Wolves' house-warming

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The Independent Online

Warrington will set out to treat this evening's tussle with Wakefield as just another match. The reality is that it is anything but.

Warrington will set out to treat this evening's tussle with Wakefield as just another match. The reality is that it is anything but.

A sold-out first game at the new Halliwell Jones Stadium is bound to be an emotionally charged event, with the Wolves expected to produce a performance to match the setting.

"We will work on ignoring the occasion," their coach, Paul Cullen, said. "That's what we did when we left Wilderspool and we got through that."

There will be 14,206 at the new ground to underline that sense of occasion, however, most of them standing - thanks to the stadium design for which they expressed their preference.

One thing they will be glad to see is Lee Briers leading the side out again, for the first time since breaking his wrist last summer. The Wolves' captain has had a frustrating wait to get back into the action and says he is still getting pain from the injury, but has been reassured that it is normal.

His return means that Graham Appo, such a success in the latter stages of last season after being moved to stand-off in Briers' place, will have to be moved elsewhere - probably on to the wing.

He and his team-mates will be aware of Wakefield's potential to spoil the party. Trinity look to have recruited wisely over the winter, their new recruits including Sid Domic, one of Warrington's best players over the last two seasons.

Also making his debut is the Kiwi international David Solomona, one of the best ball-handling forwards in the world, who could add a new dimension to Wakefield's play, while Semi Tadulala has recovered in time to make his first appearance on the wing.

Tomorrow, the match between promoted Salford and Widnes already looks like one which will be significant at the end of the season, as both sides need a good start if they are not to be haunted by relegation worries.

Widnes are without their major close-season signing Aaron Moule, but Andy Hobson and Troy Wozniak should make their bow, while there is no place in a Salford side featuring five debutants for the heavyweight prop Neil Baynes, who has been a regular for several seasons.

Chev Walker and Ryan Bailey make their first competitive appearances for Leeds since the custodial sentences that interrupted their careers last year. The opposition at Headingley is the London Broncos, who give debuts to their new English wingers, Jon Wells and John Kirkpatrick, and two new Australians, Mark O'Halloran and Andrew Hart.

Castleford, who were thrashed 36-0 by Huddersfield in a pre-season friendly, need to do much better in the match that matters. They are still without Paul Mellor and Paul Newlove, and much will depend on how the new half-back partnership of Sean Rudder and Ryan Sheridan beds in and whether Brandon Costin is fit for the Giants.