Wigan Warriors will host Leeds Rhinos on Friday night in a mouth watering semi-final.
Both clubs are familiar with these circumstances meeting in matches in which the winner headed off to Old Trafford in 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013 with four wins a piece.
Interestingly, on seven of the eight occasions they have met with a place at Old Trafford at stake, the winner has gone on to win the Grand Final – Wigan of course beat Leeds to qualify for the Grand Final in 1998 and then beat the Rhinos 10-4 at the Theatre of Dreams in the inaugural Grand Final.
Wigan also hosted Leeds in last year’s play-offs with the Rhinos winning 8-0.
Warriors boss Matt Peet will certainly be hoping for a different outcome on Friday night and today revealed exactly how Wigan have used their 14 days preparation having earnt a week off for finishing second in the table.
“We prioritised rest and recovery,” Peet said, “It was very individualised last week and this week has been business as usual.”
— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) September 13, 2022
No doubt a big worry for Wigan has been the fitness of key playmaker Cade Cust. Cust, like Leeds counterpart Mikolaj Oledzki, is suffering with a joint injury and has been described as “touch and go” for the game by Peet in the same way Oledzki has by Rohan Smith.
“It’s touch and go,” Peet revealed, “There’s no structural damage, as soon as he can execute without pain he will be fit to play but it’s not an injury with any long-term danger.”
The Warriors will nonetheless have Sam Powell back in the mix who Peet praised. It’ll be interesting to see how he figures with young Brad O’Neill in top form at nine: “Sam epitomises what we want to be about as a Club. He’s a dream – day in, day out. He’s engaged in everything we do as a Club, he’s present and he always offers his opinion.”
In terms of previous meetings this year, neither have been close with Leeds battering Wigan at Headingley after Jai Field inspired a demolition of the Rhinos at the DW Stadium in Round Two.
However, Peet believes the previous encounters will have very little impact on the game itself: “I don’t think that anything that has happened before these 80-minutes will have any bearing on the game. It’s all about who performs the best on Friday evening.”