In what is always a feisty and physical local derby, St Helens make the short journey to Warrington on Friday night, with both team’s poor start to the season adding extra emphasis to the fixture.
After a torrid opening seven games, which saw them without a win and rooted to the bottom of the table, the Wolves have recently enjoyed a purple patch, winning four games on the bounce. This resurgence however, was halted last weekend following a convincing 34 points to 10 defeat at the hands of Hull FC. Warrington will be looking to make a statement in this game, with a victory against local rivals, who are only two points ahead of them in the table, being the perfect catalyst to springboard themselves up the table.
The Saints meanwhile have endured an equally dismal first half of the season, winning only three from eight games, culminating with the sacking of head coach and club legend Keiron Cunningham. Results and the style of play have steadily improved under the watchful eye of interim coaching trio Jamahl Lolesi, Sean Long and Derek Traynor, including a dogged display with 10 men in the Good Friday derby at Wigan, and more impressively a 26-22 victory over high flying Castleford on Easter Monday. Consistency is the key now for the Saints, with the aim being to achieve consecutive victories following last Friday’s defeat of the Leigh Centurions.
Warrington make four changes to their squad which lost away at Hull FC last weekend. Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford and Kevin Brown are unavailable due to being selected in the England squad that flew out to Australia earlier in the week, and Joe Westerman is absent after picking up a neck injury. Their spots are taken by Ben Westwood, who has completed his suspension, Dom Crosby, Harvey Livett and Morgan Smith.
St Helens are also forced into making changes due to international call ups, with the influential Alex Walmsley and Mark Percival both missing. The Saints are boosted however by the return of talismanic hooker James Roby from injury, with Jake Spedding and Greg Richards also coming into the 19. Adam Walker is available for selection due to submitting an early guilty plea for last weekend’s grade A punching charge.
Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Dominic Crosby, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Harvey Livett, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Matty Russell, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Morgan Smith, Ben Westwood.
St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Adam Swift, Theo Fages, Matty Smith, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Adam Walker, Luke Thompson, Tommy Lee, Dominique Peyroux, Greg Richards, Morgan Knowles, Jake Spedding, Regan Grace, Zeb Taia.