Play off contenders set to clash at the John Smiths stadium


Fridays clash at the John Smiths stadium sees two sides meet who have had stuttering starts to their 2023 season.

In a rematch of last season’s Challenge Cup final, the Huddersfield Giants are taking on Wigan with both sides only victories this season coming against Castleford and Wakefield – who both remain winless.

After struggling in attack in their first two games the giants were able to put points on the board as they condemned Castleford to their fourth straight defeat with a 36-6 victory.

Chris McQueen, who scored 17 tries in 27 games last year, opened his account for 2023 with a brace while Will Pryce was able to show why he is Ian Watson’sfirst choice at halfback, scoring from a scrum as well as setting up Jake Bibby’s try with a smart grubber kick.

Wigan on the other hand struggled in attack in their 18-10 defeat at the hands of the Catalan Dragons. Despite having long periods of possession inside the Catalan half they failed to turn pressure into points with their only try coming five minutes after halftime.

The warriors came through their game against Catalan which means they have been able to name an unchanged 21 man squad. The giants were less fortunate and have been forced to make three changes.

Matty English, Theo Fages and Joe Greenwood have dropped out of their squad due to injury however they will be boosted by the potential return of centre Kevin Naiqama. There is also no Jake Connor in the Huddersfield squad even though Ian Watson confirmed after the Wakefield game that their star off season signing was back in training.

The two sides met three times last season including in the aforementioned Challenge Cup final in which Wigan stole it at the death 16-14 with a Liam Marshall try in the final three minutes of the game. The honours were even in Super League with both sides winning their home games.

Looking ahead to Friday night, it is a pivotal game for both sides. Huddersfield and Wigan have the objective of competing at the top of Super League yet they have struggled against stronger opposition.

While Hudderfield may have been unlucky to run into a red hot Warrington side first up, Wigan have been outplayed by both Catalan last time out and Hull KR who they would have expected to beat in the opening round of the season.

As a result the two sides will be hoping a win will provide a kickstart to their season.

In my opinion Huddersfield will be too strong for the warriors and record back to back wins at home. They have been building nicely with a strong defensive display in their 8-0 win against Wakefield followed by a stronger showing in attack last week against Castleford.

On the contrary, the spine of Wigan’s attack looked disconnected against the Dragons and lacked creativity. After a breakout 2022 season, teams have learned to shut Jai Field down which has blunted the warrior’s most dangerous attacking weapon and neither Cade Cust or Harry Smith have shown they are able to fill the attacking void.

21 mans squads

Huddersfield Giants: Esan Marsters, Kevin Naiqama, Jake Bibby, Tui Lolohea, Chris Hill, Nathan Peats, Josh Jones, Chris McQueen, Luke Yates, Ashton Golding, Matty English, Harry Rushton, Owen Trout, Seb Ikahihifo, Adam O’Brien, Olly Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, Harvey Livett, Olly Russell, Nathan Mason, Jack Ashworth, Will Pryce.

Wigan Warriors: Jai Field, Bevan French, Toby King, Jake Wardle, Liam Marshall, Cade Cust, Harry Smith, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Liam Byrne, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Morgan Smithies, Mike Cooper, Kaide Ellis, Ethan Havard, Kai Pearce-Paul, Patrick Mago, Brad O’Neill, Abbas Miski, Junior Nsemba.

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