Wigan poised for cup progress

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Widnes versus Wigan in a cup tie still carries echoes of an era, not all that long ago, when the former were the masters of knock-out rugby and the latter the upstart pretenders.

The balance of power has swung now to an extent where it would be a massive upset if Widnes were to win at Naughton Park in the Regal Trophy this afternoon.

The Chemics surrendered an eight-month unbeaten home record to Featherstone last week and they are without the injured David Ruane and Andy Collier today, as well as Adrian Hadley, who has "resigned" from the club.

Wigan are without England's World Cup full-back, Kris Radlinski, with Jason Robinson moving from the wing and Rob Smythe, 18, coming in, but the odds are heavily on them continuing a run of winning on their last six visits.

St Helens will not be too worried about facing Halifax with Danny Arnold at full-back, in place of the injured Steve Prescott. Arnold, 19, impressed after coming on as a substitute against Workington last week and is poised to start a first team match for the first time.

Their new signing, Paul Newlove, is cup-tied for this round, but Scott Gibbs returns from injury and Vila Matautia from suspension to make Saints look a solid bet for the semis.

Warrington have a long injury list which is delaying final selection, but should still be good enough to beat Rochdale.

Greg Mackey, Warrington's veteran scrum-half, is wanted by Paris to spearhead their Super League campaign. Paris have targeted the Australian as player- coach after failing to persuade Oldham's coach, Andy Goodway, to leave Watersheddings. Mackey, set to return Down Under next week after four years with Warrington, said: "I have been asked to apply for the job and would be tempted by the challenge."

That leave Leeds bidding to become Yorkshire's one representative in the semi-finals, provided they do nothing slack or silly against Second Division Carlisle.

Leeds have Kevin Iro back and Nick Fozzard in contention, but are still without Garry Schofield. Carlisle could give a rapid debut to Richard Henare, from Hawkes Bay Unicorns, recommended to them by their former coach Cameron Bell - father of Leeds's Dean.

Henare, a wing or centre with a prolific try-scoring record in New Zealand, will have a run with the Alliance team today and could come straight into the first team tomorrow.

Another Kiwi, the stand-off, Tane Manihera, should be fit after missing Carlisle's defeat - their first in 13 matches - at Bramley last week.

Oldham's Ian Sherratt will be out until the new year with a five-match suspension for elbowing an opponent's head at Odsal last week.

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