Challenge Cup Final: Wigan Warriors predicted line-up

Wigan Warriors have endured an unusually long wait for Challenge Cup success by their standards.

If they fail to win today, it will be 10 seasons since they last lifted rugby league’s oldest and most prestigious competition – a trophy they’ve won more than anyone. So, the pressure is on especially as today represents only the second final they’ve contested since their 16-0 win over Hull FC in 2013.

Well in the hunt at the top of the table chasing Champions and rivals St Helens, a piece of silverware would be the perfect boost for the Warriors as they look to cement themselves as top dogs again in this new era under Matt Peet.

They’ve already dispatched the Champions in a statement win in the semi-finals but defeat here means that will have all be for naught and could leave them reeling as we head into the second half of the campaign.

In their way is a difficult challenge in the shape of Ian Watson’s Huddersfield Giants. The Watson effect is starting to take hold at the John Smith’s Stadium as he’s turned them into a methodical and dangerous team capable of beating anyone. After all, they knocked off the Warriors just two weeks ago.

So, Matt Peet needs to get his team selection bang on for this one against the Giants but what will he do?

The backs should be fairly straight forward. Since the departure of Zak Hardaker, Peet has settled on a first choice backline which returned to action against Hull FC last week with Jai Field at fullback and Bevan French on the wing.

The halves are a different story all together. Many did not expect Thomas Leuluai to be anywhere near the team for this final but he finds himself in the squad. Normally, the skipper would certainly play but the form Harry Smith has shone in the halves next to Cade Cust means it would harsh to drop him now.

There is a possible curve ball Peet could throw at things. There is of course no Sam Powell through suspension and Leuluai has spent a lot of time as a nine in his career. Could he feature in that role today? Again this would be harsh on Brad O’Neill however there is every chance that both could play with one of the bench.

As with the backs, Peet has settled into a strong forward pack the one which won the semi against Saints with Liam Byrne at prop. This week Kaide Ellis returns from a ban and could replace Byrne in the front row but it’s more likely he’ll start on the bench to offer extra size against a big Giants side. This could see Joe Shorrocks dropped.

It’s unlikely that Willie Isa will feature after falling out of favour recently.

Here’s our predicted line-up:

23 Jai Field
1 Bevan French
4 Iain Thornley
2 Jake Bibby
5 Liam Marshall
6 Cade Cust
16 Harry Smith
8 Brad Singleton
28 Brad O’Neill
20 Liam Byrne
11 Liam Farrell
13 John Bateman
14 Morgan Smithies
10 Patrick Mago
15 Kaide Ellis
17 Oliver Partington
19 Ethan Havard

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