Wigan stand between Saints and a record start

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

St Helens can take a giant step towards securing the first Super League title if they can win at Wigan for the first time in nine attempts tonight. Victory would give Saints a five-point lead at the top and equal the record for the best start to a league season.

"I don't think that would mean it was won - I think back to what happened to Newcastle - but it would be awfully difficult to peg back," the St Helens coach, Shaun McRae, said.

"But I think Wigan are entitled to start as favourites for this one. They are a little more settled, have fewer injuries and will have the bulk of the crowd behind them - which could be a huge advantage."

McRae will have Paul Newlove back following a chest infection, with Apollo Perelini also returning after being rested against Workington last week. But there are other injury doubts and he is delaying his selection until shortly before the match.

McRae's Wigan counterpart, Graeme West, is also playing his cards close to his chest, although Henry Paul should be back in action. Kris Radlinski is a more uncertain starter, which could put his place for England against France next Wednesday in doubt.

"They are still a team of champions," McRae said. "You can't really pick anyone out as a threat, because once you do that they hit you from somewhere else, but I don't think I have ever seen Va'aiga Tuigamala and Jason Robinson play better than they are doing at the moment."

Tuigamala is one of only seven British-based players required for the Oceania Cup next month. The others are John Schuster of Halifax, Salford's Sam Panapa and Ali Davys, Jason Temu of Oldham, Swinton's Willie Wolfgramm, and Lee Hansen of Widnes.

Wigan, who attracted their lowest league crowd for seven years last weekend, have scrapped Sunday evening kick-offs. Sunday games will now be in the afternoon.