Combined XIII: St Helens versus Wigan Warriors

With the big derby between St Helens and Wigan tonight, we’ve put together a combined side featuring the very best talent from both sides. There’s bound to be some debate over some positions – here’s how the team looks:

Fullback: Ben Barba (St Helens)

One of many tough calls in this team to start with – but given the hype and anticipation surrounding Ben Barba’s debut, we simply couldn’t leave him out of this team: although Sam Tomkins came mightily close to getting in instead!

Wing: Tommy Makinson (St Helens)

Both sides’ backlines are impressive to say the least – and the flying Tommy Makinson claims one of the two wing spots in this team. He may not be completely at his best this year but on his day, he is one of the best wingers in the business.

Centre: Mark Percival (St Helens)

Another product of St Helens’ junior system, Percival is a fully-fledged England international and is undoubtedly one of the best centres in this country. He makes the team.

Centre: Oliver Gildart (Wigan)

Like Percival, Wigan’s Oliver Gildart is another homegrown three-quarter with a big future. A try-scorer at Wembley last weekend, Gildart will be a big part of Wigan’s side for years to come.

Wing: Joe Burgess (Wigan)

Since returning from an indifferent spell in the NRL, Joe Burgess has readapted to life in a Wigan shirt superbly. He looks to be every inch the player he was before he left for Australia.

Stand-off: George Williams (Wigan)

The half-back pairing is certainly a familiar one – but not from this season! The imperious George Williams is the stand-off in our team after another strong season so far.

Scrum-half: Matty Smith (St Helens)

And Williams’ half-back partner is the man he won the Grand Final with at Wigan last year, Matty Smith! However, Smith will be the enemy for all those of a Wigan persuasion tonight.

Prop: Alex Walmsley (St Helens)

Into the pack – and big Alex Walmsley nails down the first prop spot. The St Helens man has been great this year, playing a big part in the revival of the club under Justin Holbrook, just like..

Hooker: James Roby (St Helens) Walmsley, Roby has been influential in St Helens’ turnaround in fortunes. It was a tough call between Roby and Wigan counterpart Michael McIlorum, but Roby has been sublime in recent months for the Saints.

Prop: Tony Clubb (Wigan)

Plenty of credible candidates for the other prop spot in this team, but Wigan’s Tony Clubb has excelled this season amidst a real backdrop of adversity.

Second row: John Bateman (Wigan)

And finally, onto the three men that lock down the pack – and they’re all Wigan players! John Bateman will have a big say in what happens with England at the end of the year – as will he with Wigan’s title hopes this year.

Second row: Liam Farrell (Wigan)

Wigan’s industrious, hard-working Liam Farrell also claims a spot in this side. Like his second row counterpart John Bateman, he will be huge in keeping Wigan’s title hopes alive tonight.

Loose-forward: Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan)

Wigan’s talismanic captain finishes off this team – the inspirational Sean O’Loughlin is still the Warriors’ go-to man when times are tough. He will be vital this evening.