Wigan Warriors might be about to enter the play-offs with designs on a double after their Challenge Cup triumph over Huddersfield Giants in May and that impressive 30-10 win over reigning champions St Helens on Friday.
But it’s been a long and all-too-often worrying campaign for the other Super League ‘W’s, Wakefield Trinity and Warrington Wolves, who ahead of their penultimate matches at St Helens and Huddersfield Giants respectively today (Monday, August 29) were third and second-bottom.
Fair play to Wakefield, because things looked bleak at the end of round 19 after they dropped to the foot of the table following their 15-10 loss at Hull KR and a 20-6 home win over Leeds Rhinos for a Toulouse Olympique team who had beaten Trinity 38-26 at Magic Weekend.
However while the French side were unable to maintain their points-generating momentum, and are heading back to the Championship after just one season in the top flight, Wakefield reinforce their reputation as survival specialists by winning four of their next six games, culminating in Thursday’s 18-6 triumph over Hull KR.
But that looks like it was the final home outing for a string of players – with halfback Jacob Miller set to depart, Tinirau Arona and David Fifita revealing they are leaving the Yorkshire club and fellow forward Yusuf Aydin heading to Hull KR, who have already signed the currently-injured second row James Batchelor, with winger Tom Johnstone, also sidelined, moving to Catalans Dragons.
Earlier this year, long-serving back Bill Tupou called time on his career due to injury, so even allowing for the signing of winger Jorge Taufua, Trinity are well down on numbers, and supporters are growing concerned at the lack of news about players coming into the club.
That’s not so much of a worry for fans of Warrington, where squad rebuilding is well under way following a highly disappointing first season under Daryl Powell.
Having already brought in Canterbury Bulldogs fullback Matt Dufty, Wests Tigers prop Thomas Mikaele and Wigan second rower Matty Nicholson, the Wolves are adding four international forwards in the formidable shape of Catalans pair Sam Kasiano (New Zealand and Samoa) and Gil Dudson (Wales), St George Illawarra Dragons’ Josh McGuire (Samoa and New Zealand) and Canterbury’s Paul Vaughan (Italy and Australia).
Frontrower Mike Cooper has already left for Wigan, who are also taking centre Toby King on loan for the whole of the 2023 campaign.
And captain and versatile forward Jack Hughes, halfback Gareth Widdop, loose-forwards Matt Davis and Jason Clark and prop Robbie Mulhern are also leaving.
It’s a big change around – but will it have a big effect?
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