Super League preview: Warrington Wolves V St Helens
What a mouth-watering tie this is shaping up to be.
With local pride, the first points of the season, and early momentum on the line, both sides will be giving it everything.
Warrington boss Tony Smith has selected a strong squad, but is without his first-choices at full-back and loose forward – Matty Russell and Simon Grix.
Stefan Ratchford looks likely to fill in at the back, with Michael Monaghan odds-on to take his place at stand-off, and Ben Currie starting in the back row.
Saints coach Nathan Brown has almost a full allocation to select from, with only Samoan international Mose Masoe (back for round three, all being well), and impact player Mark Flanagan missing out.
It will be interesting to see how new half-back Luke Walsh gets on and equally former Wakefield prop Kyle Amor, who is highly fancied to set the league alight in 2014.
“We have a pretty settled 13 with some tough choices to make on the bench,” said Brown.
“A couple of the younger lads have improved a lot and are probably entitled to play whilst there are a couple of older blokes who haven’t done anything wrong who are also entitled to play too.
“We have real balance in the squad. We have brought in a couple of bigger guys and have a genuine half back in Luke Walsh. Jonny [Lomax] has come into pre-season knowing he will play full back, Paul Wellens knows where he will be used and the likes of Mark Percival, Adam Swift and Alex Walmsley have all played a number of games and know what Super League is about.
“We have a number of options at 6; Lance Hohaia can play there as well as at 9 and 1 and Wello can play there too. There’s Gary Wheeler too, he is a talent who has had an unfortunate run with injury.
“He’s come through three pre-season friendlies and a pre-season programme so he will get shot and hopefully things turn out for him.”
Centre Jordan Turner is also in Brown’s 19-man squad and will be aiming to score in his fourth consecutive game against Warrington.
1 Jonny Lomax
2 Tommy Makinson
3 Jordan Turner
4 Josh Jones
5 Adam Swift
6 Lance Hohaia
7 Luke Walsh
9 James Roby
10 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
11 Sia Soliola
12 Jon Wilkin
13 Willie Manu
14 Anthony Laffranchi
16 Kyle Amor
17 Paul Wellens
18 Alex Walmsley
22 Mark Percival
24 Gary Wheeler
27 Greg Richards
6 Stefan Ratchford
2 Chris Riley
3 Chris Bridge
4 Ryan Atkins
5 Joel Monaghan
14 Michael Monaghan
7 Richie Myler
8 Chris Hill
9 Micky Higham
10 Roy Asotasi
11 Trent Waterhouse
12 Ben Westwood
17 Ben Currie
22 Brad Dwyer
19 Anthony England
25 Ben Evans
23 James Laithwaite
20 Gareth O’Brien
21 Glenn Riley
What happened in the last 10 meetings
St Helens 16, Warrington 29 (SLR26, 30/8/13)
St Helens 22, Warrington 48 (SLR16, 25/5/13)
Warrington 10, St Helens 22 (SLR6, 8/3/13)
St Helens 18, Warrington 36 (SLQSF, 29/9/12)
Warrington 6, St Helens 28 (SLQPO, 15/9/12)
St Helens 12, Warrington 22 (SLR23, 6/8/12)
Warrington 16, St Helens 28 (SLR9, 30/3/12)
Warrington 35, St Helens 28 (SLR19, 24/6/11)
St Helens 18, Warrington 25 (SLR3, 25/2/11)
St Helens 28, Warrington 12 (SLQPO, 10/9/10)
Paul Wellens needs one point to reach 1,000 for his career. He has scored 953 points (218 tries, 40 goals, 1 field goal) for St Helens since 1998. He also has points for Great Britain (18 – 4 tries, 1 goal), England (16 – 4 tries) and Lancashire (12 – 3 tries).
James Roby will be making his 250th appearance for Saints if he makes it into the matchday 17.
Willie Manu will be making his 200th Super League appearance if included in the matchday 17 (23 for Castleford, 2006; 151 for Hull FC, 2007-2012 and 25 for St Helens, 2013).
How the bookies see it
Warrington are narrow favourites. The best odds you can get right now is 4/7 with SkyBet. You can get 7/4 for a Saints win at Paddy Power
Warrington to win by 1-12 is 19/10 at 888Sport, Warrington by 13+ is 2/1, while Saints to win by 1-12 is 3/1
Joel Monaghan is 8/1 with Ladbrokes
Adam Swift is 10/1 with SkyBet
Chris Riley is 10/1 with Ladbrokes
Jonny Lomax is 12/1 with StanJames
Richie Myler, Ryan Atkins and Thomas Makinson are 14/1 with Ladbrokes
Warrington/Warrington 11/10 with StanJames
St Helens/St Helens 16/5 with Paddy Power
St Helens/Warrington 7/1 with Paddy Power
Warrington/St Helens 9/1 with Paddy Power
Any other bets
Warrington are 8/11 to score first with Bet365
St Helens are 5/4 to cross first with Paddy Power
Paddy Power are offering 5/2 on a drop-goal at any point
Jonny Lomax is 40/1 to score a hat-trick
Joel Monaghan is 4/5 to score at any point
How we see it
I am tipping Saints for the title in 2014 and am not sure Warrington have done enough to fill the void left by Morley, Carvell, Hodgson and Briers. Therefore I’ll go Saints by 6 points.
How do you see it?
Watch the below video to see highlights from last August, when the sides met at Langtree Park and Warrington walked away 16-29 winners.