Offiah wants to spoil Wigan party

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The Independent Online
Martin Offiah will deny himself a Stones Super League Championship medal today if he can inspire his team, the London Broncos, to beat his former team-mates from Wigan.

Offiah played enough games before his transfer to qualify for the medal, but defeat at The Valley this evening will mean that any honours for Wigan will be the hollow and unfamiliar ones accorded to the runners-up. Indeed, if Wigan lose today and St Helens beat the Sheffield Eagles tomorrow, the title will have been decided.

Shaun McRae, the Saints coach, is one who does not expect it to work out that way. "We are expecting Wigan to win both their remaining games, which means that we have to win both ours."

Nevertheless, London at The Valley are a formidable proposition, and they already possess the psychological edge of having taken a potentially crucial point from Wigan at Central Park.

It is the manner of that draw, rather than any trepidation at facing Offiah, which most concerns the Wigan coach, Graeme West. "They got away with slowing the game down that day, which makes a mockery of the way in which it is supposed to be played these days," West said. "I just hope they don't get away with as much this time."

Tulsen Tollett, the Broncos' newly selected Great Britain squad member, does not believe there will be a repeat of London's tactics. "The crowd weren't very happy about it, and I've spoken to a few of the Wigan players at the Great Britain meeting this week and I know they weren't too happy about it, either," Tollett said.

"But I don't think we'll go about it the same way, because they would be expecting it this time."

The London coach, Tony Currie, offers no apologies for upsetting Wigan. "There is no rule in rugby league that says every game has to be played in the way that suits Wigan's taste," he said.

"Wigan wear down sides who lack fitness, but now we are as fit as them, as strong as them and - with the addition of Offiah and our new centre David Krause - as fast as them. At a conservative estimate there will be 10,000 people there, but all the pressure will be on Wigan, not us."

Currie is without the winger, Scott Roskell, and his loose forward and the captain, Terry Matterson, but Gavin Allen is fit to resume. West still has to decide whether to restore Shaun Edwards to his starting line-up or to carry on with Craig Murdock at scrum-half.

Hull's Glen Liddiard has failed in his appeal against a two-match ban and misses their two remaining games of the season. John Atkinson, the former Leeds and Great Britain player, has been appointed as an extra member of the disciplinary panel.

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