Five talking points ahead of this weekend’s Super League action

Who will be Widnes’ half-back pairing on Friday night?

Life isn’t easy for Widnes Vikings at the moment. Beaten on their own turf by Huddersfield on the opening weekend and still reeling from the departure of captain Kevin Brown in the off-season, Denis Betts has to contend without his first-choice half-back pairing against Wigan on Friday night. The likes of Chris Bridge and Aaron Heremaia could form a makeshift pairing at the DW Stadium – will it be enough to worry the newly-crowned world champions?

Will Micky Higham provide Leigh with a significant enough boost?

The table may well say two defeats from two games, but Leigh Centurions could easily still be smarting from last Friday’s narrow defeat to Leeds Rhinos. They had enough chances to win the game and, some would argue they perhaps deserved at least a point from the clash. But ahead of Friday’s home clash with St Helens, Neil Jukes has been handed a massive boost with the return of captain Micky Higham to his squad. Will the experienced hooker provide Leigh with enough of a boost to get them over the line for their first win of 2017?

Can Castleford make a real statement of intent?

Few would fancy playing Warrington the week after they hammered Brisbane in the World Club Series – but Castleford don’t seem too daunted by the prospect. They are talking up their own chances of going to the Halliwell Jones and springing what would be considered a bit of an upset on Friday – and in doing so, they would surely make a real statement of intent about their own top-four chances in 2017. Losing Paul McShane to suspension will be a blow, though.

How big will Wigan’s World Club Challenge hangover be?

Few would judge Wigan if they produced an indifferent performance in front of the TV cameras on Friday night against Widnes. After all, it’s only five days on from their historic World Club Challenge victory against Cronulla – and the celebrations will have no doubt been long and plentiful. But can the Warriors – who have named an unchanged squad for the game – shake off the hangover from Sunday and make it back-to-back wins in Super League?

Will TV viewing figures take a drastic hit in numbers this weekend?

With five games on one night this weekend, it means we are all Super League-free on Saturday and Sunday as the spotlight turns onto the Challenge Cup and the Championship. But with Leeds, Warrington, Castleford and St Helens all involved in non-TV games, will the viewing figures make for grim reading behind closed doors at both Sky and the RFL? Perhaps it will be the catalyst for at least one fixture to be played on Sundays as a pre-requisite in future.