When Widnes travel to the DW Stadium tonight, the trip will see five players return to their old stomping ground.
Kevin Brown, Joe Mellor, Eamon O’Carroll, Stefan Marsh and Gil Dudson all enjoyed spells in cherry and white earlier in their careers, albeit with minimal success by Wigan’s standards.
Between them, only Dudson featured in a winning final for the Warriors, playing in the Challenge Cup and Grand Final successes of 2013, although even Dudson was moved on just a year later by the club.
They were all shown the door at some point by the Warriors, with the departure of Brown one that still baffles some of the Wigan faithful.
The fact of the matter is that all five were just not of the standard Wigan were after. They were all heralded as stars of Wigan’s future but were deemed to lack the talent that would make them the latest player to rise through the ranks at Wigan to eventual superstardom.
As a result, they soon all turned to Widnes as the place to manipulate the path of their careers; Dudson, Mellor and Marsh all moved directly to the Vikings while Brown and O’Carroll had stops at Huddersfield and Hull FC respectively on their way to the Select Security Stadium.
However, what all five have in common is that they’re producing their best Rugby League under the guise of Denis Betts. It is their performances that have rightfully sent the Vikings to the top of the league early on, and a victory over Wigan tonight would force people to take notice.
Brown and Mellor have been a destructive pair in the halves for a year now, however they have both managed to hit new heights this year.
Marsh, the tough, pitbull like outside back, is only six tries away from equalling his return in 2015, just five appearances into the new season.
As for Dudson and O’Carroll, the pair of forwards are uncompromising, undervalued and unnoticed, but they both do the graft that puts Vikings in a position to let Brown, Mellor and co do the damage.
How many Shaun Wane would bring back to the Warriors out of that quintet is unknown, but it’s likely that all five are players other teams in Super League would love to have.
And just maybe, Wigan fans might wish they were elsewhere by the end of tonight.