COMBINED XIII: Wigan v Castleford

Disclaimer! This side has only been made up of players who could play in tonight’s game. Injured players are excused..

Wigan’s clash against Castleford tonight is one of the most eagerly-anticipated tussles of 2017 thus far. It sees the surprise league leaders take on the reigning Super League champions – with many believing it could be the Tigers’ biggest test of the season to date.

But of the players both sides have at their disposal, who would make a combined XIII featuring only the best Wigan and Castleford players? This one is sure to get you talking..

Fullback: Zak Hardaker
We start with potentially the toughest call of the lot – Castleford’s Zak Hardaker or his Wigan counterpart Morgan Escare. The Frenchman has been in magnificent form so far this year but Hardaker’s attacking prowess just gives him the edge over the former Catalans man.

Wing: Greg Minikin
Wigan’s young wingers have been excellent so far in 2017, but it’s hard to look past Castleford’s flying wing duo as the wingers in this team. Minikin is likely to return tonight so he gets in the side: and his nine tries have seriously caught the eye thus far as the former York man looks every inch a Super League player.

Centre: Anthony Gelling
Oliver Gildart would have almost certainly made this side without question, but with him facing several months on the sidelines due to injury, it’s his Wigan counterpart who nudges into the side. Gelling is an outside bet to return tonight, and if he does, he’ll be vital to Wigan’s chances of success.

Centre: Michael Shenton
The England international is somewhat of a no-brainer here, given how magnificent he’s been since he returned to full fitness this season. Under Daryl Powell, Shenton has thrived in Castleford’s attacking sides of recent years – and 2017 looks to be one of his best yet.

Wing: Greg Eden
The former Brisbane man has been in superb form for Castleford since returning from the NRL: and currently leads the Super League try-scoring charts after a blistering start to 2017. He and centre Michael Shenton have already formed a destructive partnership on Cas’ left edge.

Stand-off: George Williams
It’s at least pleasing to see the halves both bright, young English talents – and George Williams is one of the most obvious picks of the lot. So far in 2017, Williams has been in mercurial form, and if he’s on form tonight, then Wigan will stand every chance of upsetting the league leaders.

Scrum-half: Luke Gale
If both Luke Gale and Williams go into the World Cup in the form they’re currently in, then England stand a great chance of success this autumn. Gale’s kicking game has been sublime so far in 2017, and alongside Zak Hardaker, he has formed a wonderful partnership in midfield.

Prop: Frank-Paul Nuuausala
The big import has been crucial for Wigan in a season littered with injury problems – and his influence will again be massive for the Warriors tonight. Since arriving from the NRL, Nuuausala has formed an effective front-row with Sam Powell and Ben Flower – and their spells on the field together are huge.

Hooker: Paul McShane
2017 has seen somewhat of a career rejuvenation for Paul McShane. His move to the Tigers a couple of years ago caught many off-guard but, like has been the case with so many of Daryl Powell’s signings, McShane has thrived at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle: whether it’s at half-back or hooker.

Prop: Andy Lynch
The evergreen Lynch is still as good as ever, even well into his late 30s. He was left out last week but could return tonight.

Second row: Liam Farrell
Farrell is another player who stands a chance of returning for Wigan tonight – and if he does play, like Gelling, Wigan instantly have a better chance of success. The England international is crucial to how Shaun Wane’s side play in both attack and defence – his return will be a major boost.

Second row: Junior Moors
Daryl Powell has talked Moors up as one of the best forwards in Super League: and on this form, it’s not hard to see why. He struggled to adapt to life in England initially but at the end of last season, he began to find his feet. Since then, he’s been a destructive back-rower almost every single time he plays.

Loose-forward: Adam Milner
Milner has only recently pitched up at the tip of the scrum, but he looks to be revelling in the move to 13. He is no-nonsense, one of the hardest working forwards in the competition and is a vital cog in Castleford’s machine.