THE highlight of the Rugby League season is on Saturday. Nothing beats Wembley, in my opinion. Here is my analysis of the Warrington and Catalans players, with a mark out of ten for each, and my prediction at the end.
STEFAN RATCHFORD 8 He’s a good attacking fullback, which is now his best position. His defence and positional sense are good. My main concern is his one-handed carry, which can lead to mistakes. He’s still not quite England material for me.
TOM LINEHAM 7 He’ll score tries and he’s got his confidence back, but his concentration can let him down and Catalans will target him. He’s been indifferent at Warrington, but this could be the time to become a hero.
BRYSON GOODWIN 8 He’s fitted in well and is a quality centre. He likes to score tries, but he’s also an excellent winger’s centre and a good goalkicker.
TOBY KING 7 I’m not sure he’s an out-an-out centre but he’s been a decent stand-in for Ryan Atkins. Wembley will be a massive test for him.
JOSH CHARNLEY 9 He is sheer quality and he’s proved me wrong since he came back from union. He might be even better than he was at Wigan. With Ryan Hall injured, I’d pick Josh to play for England.
KEVIN BROWN 8 He’s a good organiser but his kicking game needs to be more varied. He has a nice show and go, which will test the Dragons. Widnes collapsed when he left, which shows his influence.
TYRONE ROBERTS 7 If Warrington are going to win, he’s going to have to take charge from the first minute. He has to organise and his kicking game has to be spot on. I want to see him split the fullback and wingers.
CHRIS HILL 8 He’s the warrior of the Wire pack. He leads by example. He is in for a hell of an afternoon because the Dragons pack is superb. He has to lead the way in overcoming that.
DARYL CLARK 9 He’s back to his England best and is a sensational dummy-half. I’m delighted Steve Price has given him more game time. He’s not an impact player, he needs to dominate from the start.
MIKE COOPER 7 He’s a straight up-and-down player. Every side needs them. He doesn’t have much variation. He’ll do what he’s asked to do and set the right example.
HARVEY LIVETT 8 He’s a very good wide-running second-rower with good ball skills. He’ll create and can score himself. He’s not been as good in the second half of the season, but he was magnificent earlier on.
JACK HUGHES 7 He does a similar job to Cooper with his no-frills approach. He’ll have his hands full given how good the Catalans second-rowers were in the semi-final.
BEN WESTWOOD 8 He’s another warrior of the pack and knows what the big occasion is all about. Catalans will look to intimidate, but they won’t intimidate Benny Westwood.
BEN MURDOCH-MASILA 7 His impact is enormous, and he can make a big difference. But against the Dragons, he won’t have it as easy as he did against Leeds.
GEORGE KING 7 He’s still learning the game and I’m not sure he’s found his best position yet. He’ll look to make an impact but what better occasion than this to make an impact!
DECLAN PATTON 8 Coming off the bench, he takes pressure off the playmakers. He is a game changer. He hasn’t quite kicked on from his early promise, but he’s remained at a decent level.
JOE PHILBIN 7 He is wholehearted, rugged and won’t take a backward step. He’ll get ripped in and won’t let anybody down.
TONY GIGOT 9 He has everything you want from a fullback, playing like a second stand-off. He’s fine under the high ball too. He edges out Ratchford, in my opinion.
LEWIS TIERNEY 7 He could be the weak link. Brown and Roberts will pepper him. If he gets chances, he can score tries but defensively there are questions to be answered.
DAVID MEAD 8 He was a great signing and the open spaces at Wembley are made for him. If you’re a winger, he’s a dream to play outside and he can go 90 metres if need be.
BRAYDEN WILIAME 7 What lets him down is his concentration in both defence and attack. He’ll have a busy afternoon if he’s not switched on.
FOUAD YAHA 8 I like him. He’s big, strong and fast. If he gets the opportunity, he will put a marker down. If he’s up against Charnley, that will be worth the admission money alone.
SAMISONI LANGI 9 I’m a big fan of his. He’s a proper stand-off, who takes press of his halfback. He’s my tip for the Lance Todd Trophy. He has so much variation to his game.
JOSH DRINKWATER 9 If you had said a few months ago he would be playing at Wembley, you’d have been carted off! He wasn’t allowed to take charge at Leigh but look how good he is when his coach gives him freedom.
MICKAEL SIMON 8 He’s tough, rugged and won’t take a backward step. He can play the full 80 minutes. He and Hill are on the same wavelength and it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top.
MICHAEL McILORUM 9 He’s sheer quality and back to his best. He’s been a big reason for the turnaround in Catalans’ game. He is another good shout for the Lance Todd. I can’t understand why Wigan let him go.
SAM MOA 8 He runs, hard straight and direct. He picks out the small men and runs over them. He’s been back to his best in the second half of the season.
BENJAMIN JULLIEN 9 He is absolutely class. He doesn’t get bullied by anyone and he has great ball skills and speed. He will cause Warrington problems on the fringes all afternoon.
BENJAMIN GARCIA 8 He has lots of variation to his play and loves to get ripped in defensively. He sets a platform and can play 80 minutes if needed.
REMI CASTY 9 This has been his best season for ages. He is a warrior. He would be one of my three contenders for the Man of Steel – he has been that good.
JULIAN BOUSQUET 8 Boy oh boy, he makes a massive impact! The man is huge. He has a great pass on him too. When the Warrington defence tires, he will cause all sorts of problems coming off the bench.
LOUIS ANDERSON 8 He’s totally solid in what he does, like most of the forwards. If he gets an opportunity 15 or 20 yards out, he has the strength and pace to punish the defence.
KENNY EDWARDS 9 This man is absolute quality. He causes mayhem with ball in hand or in defence. He has been a diamond of a signing. He won’t just make an impact, he could be the matchwinner.
JASON BAITIERI 8 He is another top player who won’t make a backward step. He’ll make sure the Warrington forwards know he’s on the field.
THE mathematicians among you will note that I rate the Dragons 17 higher by a score of 141 to 130. They have the better spine and it’s more likely their halfbacks will prove to be matchwinners than then Wolves duo. Both coaches have had great seasons. Steve Price has rebuilt Warrington after a terrible 2017, allowing his players to express themselves freely. At Easter, it was a case of when Steve McNamara would get the boot. But now he should be the coach of the year, even if they don’t win on Saturday. He has been sensational in helping his charges fulfil their potential. I’m confident he will lead the Dragons to their first silverware. I’ll take the French side to win by 14 points.