Paul Moriarty and Paul Rowley, Halifax's try-scorers in their victory at Oldham on Friday, present the threat tonight to Wigan's ominously smooth start to the season, writes Dave Hadfield.
Moriarty, named yesterday in Wales' final 25-man squad for the Centenary World Cup, has begun in devastating form, due, his coach Steve Simms says, to concentration on sprint training.
Rowley is not in England's 40-man preparation squad, but the national coach, Phil Larder, could hardly have failed to be impressed by his sharpness at Oldham. Rowley, especially now that England's first choice, Lee Jackson, has a broken toe, could yet stake a late claim. There is an irony in his appearance for Halifax tonight, because Wigan had the chance to sign him last season. They hesitated and Simms, who coached Rowley at Leigh, stepped in.
Wigan no doubt felt themselves well covered in the position at the time. Now, however, the Welsh hooker, Martin Hall, is earmarked for Australia, Martin Dermott's long-term fitness is still under scrutiny and Phil Cantillon has left for Keighley.
Simms has shown his side an edited version of last season's 18-16 victory over Wigan to boost their confidence. "We know we are capable of beating them, because we have done it," he said.
WALES SQUAD (Halifax Centenary World Cup, 7-28 October). Backs: Atcheson (Oldham), Bateman (Cronulla), J Davies (Warrington, capt), Devereux (Widnes), Ellis (North Queensland), Ford (Salford), Gibbs (St Helens), Griffiths (St Helens), Hadley (Widnes), Harris (Warrington), Stephens (Castleford), Sullivan (St Helens). Forwards: Busby (St Helens), Cowie (Wigan), Cunningham (St Helens), Eyres (Leeds), Hall (Wigan), Jones (Warrington), Moriarty (Halifax), Perrett (Halifax), Phillips (Workington), Quinnell (Wigan), Skerrett (Wigan), Webster (Salford), Young (Salford, vice-capt).