In what is always a big game between two teams with superb history, Wigan and Hull FC do battle tomorrow night at the DW Stadium.
Wigan are in the early season top three and have the joint best record after six league games alongside Champions St Helens and last year’s league leaders Catalans Dragons.
As for Hull, having lost just twice all season, they’re knocking on the door of the top four and are proving to be a major play-off contender in 2022 but can they hand Wigan their second loss of the season?
For the first time this year, Bevan French is available for Wigan after staying in Australia over the off-season and into 2022 to be with his mother who sadly passed away at the start of the year. Now match fit, French will return posing the question what does this mean for Jai Field at fullback? Iain Thornley is also back in the squad following injury whilst Brad Singleton will return from suspension. Unfortunately, there is no Kai Pearce-Paul who has impressed so far this season. After tearing ligaments he will be out for what Matt Peet described as months. Wigan have also lost Thomas Leuluai to suspension.
There’s positive news for Hull as they welcome back skipper Luke Gale from a five-match ban. Kane Evans is also back from suspension. Meanwhile, Darnell McIntosh’s return from injury means the Black and Whites will have all four of their off-season signings available. McIntosh may find it hard forcing his way back into the 17 however following Connor Wynne’s hat-trick at the weekend.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Jai Field vs Jake Connor: There is a big question mark over whether Jai Field will start at fullback with Bevan French back in the squad, but top of the Man of Steel rankings, wherever he plays he will be a threat for Wigan. If he does play at one, he’ll be up against another dangerous attacking threat in Jake Connor who has shone in recent weeks following his Man of the Match display at Headingley.
Harry Smith vs Ben McNamara: Two young halfbacks with the world at their feet, both Smith and McNamara could have a big impact on which way this goes such is their skill and temperament. Smith is likely to take on the halfback role due to Leuluai’s suspension leaving extra pressure on him whilst McNamara has been in fine form and will now be joined by a natural halfback having played alongside Joe Lovodua in the halves recently.
Cade Cust vs Luke Gale: McNamara’s halfback partner will of course be returning skipper Luke Gale. No doubt desperate to make up for lost time, the dangerous Gale will ask plenty of questions of the Wigan defence whilst Cade Cust will look to do the same. Two signings settling into new environments, this battle may be the deciding factor in which way the two points go.
Where the game will be won and lost:
You’d have to say both side’s are pretty even down the middle of the field, so it may come to the likes of Field, Cust, Connor and Gale to decide this game with moments of magic. If Peet does name Bevan French in his side, that may just give Wigan the firepower they need to edge this battle.
Score Prediction: Wigan Warriors 22-14 Hull FC