Rugby League: Offiah lies in wait for Widnes

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The Independent Online
MARTIN OFFIAH is set to return for the champions, Wigan, in tonight's match against his old club, Widnes. The Great Britain winger damaged his hamstring in the first Championship match of the season against Hull, but will play tonight unless he suffers any reaction in a late fitness test.

Wigan also have Frano Botica back after hamstring trouble. He comes in at stand-off, allowing Andrew Farrar, the Australian who made his debut in that position at Wakefield last week, to move to his normal role in the centre.

Martin Dermott is still recovering from his elbow injury, so Martin Crompton carries on as a stand-in hooker.

The Widnes coach, Phil Larder, is calling for a big improvement from his side which could be lacking four regulars. 'We beat ourselves against Bradford on Sunday and if we play like that against Wigan there's no need for them to turn up,' he said.

Larder hopes that Jonathan Davies, John Devereux and Richard Eyres will recover from leg injuries, but there is less chance of Tony Myler being fit.

Myler, whose career has been constantly interrupted by injuries, damaged a knee against Bradford. David Hulme will move to stand- off, with the former Wigan player, Bobby Goulding, returning at scrum-half after completing a suspension.

Swinton are relying on their Lancashire Cup second round tie against Wigan next Tuesday to provide some temporary respite from their financial crisis. The club's two gates since selling their Station Road ground and moving in with Bury have been below 800.

'A good attendance against Wigan could not come at a better time,' the club's chief executive, Wayne Dore, said . 'We also hope that it will help us to attract new supporters in Bury. There is already a lot of interest in the game in the town.'

The reward for the winner of that tie at Gigg Lane will be a home semi-final against Oldham on 7 October. The winner of next Wednesday's match between St Helens and Widnes will meet Salford.

Although Oldham and Salford will beg to differ, the increasingly likely prospect of Wigan meeting either St Helens or Widnes in the final is not one which is designed to help Great Britain's preparations for the World Cup final against Australia.

Either of those possible finals would involve the bulk of the Great Britain side in a demanding match only six days before the game at Wembley Stadium on 24 October.