Combined XIII returns as we preview the two sides that will take the field at Old Trafford on Saturday. Both Wigan and Warrington have had some stand out performers in 2018, and we now look at what a combined side would look like.
Full Back – Sam Tomkins
Wigan’s no.1 has had a sparkling season, leading the Wigan team from the back and being one of the consistent figures of the Super League all year.
He has 10 tries and 18 try assists to his name this season, which has been rewarded with a re-call to the national side for their upcoming test series against New Zealand.
Wing – Tom Davies
Young winger Tom Davies has had to cope with being the forgotten man at times, as Liam Marshall’s try scoring, Joe Burgess’ big performances and Dom Manfredi’s return have all taken the shine of a fantastic season for Davies.
Davies has scored 12 tries, and has been key in back field returns with over 8 metres per carry, and is the top metre maker for Wigan. But it’s not just in attack that Davies is key, with confidence under the high ball and some fantastic goal line defence at times, making him arguably Wigan’s best winger.
Centre – Bryson Goodwin
Goodwin signed for the Wire in the winter and has made an immediate impact for the club, proving pivotal as the competition hit the business end with some sterling performances.
12 tries and 4 assists lead the stats for the Centre but he also is the second highest in the Warrington side for offloads, allowing his side to continue in a fast pace of the back of his drives. He also averages over 9 metres in metres per carry, and could be the difference for his side on Saturday.
Centre – Oliver Gildart
Wigan born and bred, Gildart is one of the 41 players that was handed his debut by departing coach Shaun Wane, and the young centre has repaid his faith 10-fold.
His versatility has been key with stints on the wing, but the majority of his work has come from centre, and with 13 tries and 8 assists (some of which were spectacular) he has well and truly earned his late call up to the England squad for the upcoming Autumn test series.
Wing – Tom Lineham
Lineham came into the season knowing he was the leading winger in the Wire side, before the mid-season signing of Josh Charnley.
A splendid season has been capped with 16 tries, leading the way for Warrington, he also has great offload and metre stats. He makes it into this side, along with Davies, both by the skin of their teeth with Joshua Charnley, Joe Burgess and Liam Marshall, all having big parts to play, but just missing out.
Stand off – George Williams
Wigan and England stand off George Williams has been under immense pressure to perform since he put to paper on a deal to make him Wigan’s marquee player last season, and at times during 2017, struggled.
Williams has managed to cope this season, however, and leads Wigan in try assists with 22 for the season. He has become an integral part of the Warriors outfit and with the experience of Leuluai allowing him to be more expressive with ball in hand, he has thrived during the Super 8’s.
Scrum Half – Tyrone Roberts
This position is a strange one, given that Wigan have had a stand out performer in Thomas Leuluai, but he has only occupied the no. 7 position for just over a month leaving me with only one option.
Roberts has directed the play for the Wolves all season and has managed to get 12 assists from a position that would see him at first receiver more often than not. 5 tries also sits next to his assists and what can’t be seen is the influence he has had on the playmakers outside of him.
Prop – Tony Clubb
When the season began, you could have asked every Wigan fan who would be the first forward on the team sheet. Many would say Sean O’Loughlin, John Bateman or even Ben Flower, few would’ve even muttered the name Tony Clubb but the Prop has become an integral part of the Cherry and White outfit.
6 tries is impressive for any forward and with an average gain of 8 metres per carry, the fan favourite has led an impressive pack in style. He will be hoping to add a lucky 7th try to help his side to a win at Old Trafford.
Hooker – Daryl Clark
Clark has once again forced his way back into the England squad after another consistent season from behind the ruck.
Wire’s no. 9 is still the best hooker in the league from a broken ruck and can get through the defensive line in the blink of an eye. He has 9 assists and 5 tries to his name this season and averages at almost 10 metres per carry. Wigan will have to be at the top of their defensive game to stop this man.
Prop – Chris Hill
Warrington’s Mr. consistent, wherever you turn, you’ll see this mans face. Chris Hill will be keen to lead his club to their first ever Grand Final victory and first league title since 1955.
He has amassed over 3000 metres at over 7 metres per carry, and has 400 carries to his name which is an impressive stat for someone less likely to spend big minutes on the field.
Second Row – John Bateman
The Man of Steel runner-up has had one of the best season’s in the Super League, and is thought by many to be unlucky not to receive the greatest individual honour.
Known as the bulldog, Bateman has 118 tackle busts to his name, making far more metres after contact than any of his teammates, he is also the second highest metre maker for the Cherry and White outfit. With a move to the NRL coming up, he’ll be looking to end his time with the Wigan side in style.
Second Row – Ben Murdoch-Masila
Super League has a wealth of talent in the back row, and with Liam Farrell, Joe Greenwood, Willie Isa, Jack Hughes and Ben Westwood all performing at times during the season it was hard to choose Bateman’s partner in the pack.
Tongan international, Murdoch-Masila has had an almost forgotten season having been on the sideline for a lengthy period but his influence in the first half of the season was astronomical. 1400 metres off just 150 carries along with 6 tries says it all.
Loose Forward – Sean O’Loughlin
I can already hear the cries of ‘glass knees’ and ‘sick note’, but in every Super League appearance this man has made, he has been the difference for his hometown team.
He has 6 assists from the pack and still has over 1000 metres in limited minutes. He scored the try that topped off a famous derby win at the Totally Wicked Stadium and his quality in leadership is what drives the Wigan team forward. Expect him to play very limited time on Saturday, but the minutes he does play may just change the game completely.