Topics of conversation for the Super League on Thursday
Will St. Helens be celebrating again when they play Huddersfield?
We take a look at what is being said ahead of the fourth round of the first two Super League games in which Wigan Warriors take on Castleford Tigers, followed by St Helens against Huddersfield Giants live on Sky Sports …
French back to strengthen warriors
It seemed like an age for Wigan fans, but the wait is over when Bevan French will perform for the first time this year, when the Cherries and Whites greet Castleford at DW Stadium Thursday night.
Head coach Adrian Lam wouldn’t be convinced what position French are likely to play, with the possibility of being used in the half rather than the full-back – where Zak Hardaker has impressed in his absence – as captain Tommy Leuluai has a sore sternum.
Bevan French will make his first Wigan appearance of the year
And while he warned the 2020 Man of Steel nominee that it could take a few games to get back to that form, he’s delighted to be able to unleash French in every role as the hosts have four out of four wins in want to achieve the Super League so far.
“At the start of a season it always took me six weeks as a player to regain my form so I wouldn’t assume Bevan will play his best rugby in the first game,” said Lam, who also has supporter Liam Byrne back on suspension said.
“But this is Bevan French, remember so he could come out and score a hat trick in the first game. With crossed fingers he hits the race.”
Powell: A great opportunity
Castleford has made an equally strong start to the new Super League season with three out of three wins and is just below second-placed Wigan in the early table.
They issued a statement last Friday with a 52:16 win over Leigh Centurions – the same team the Warriors had to fight 18 points behind in their season opener – and have center-back Danny Richardson back at their disposal .
Tiger’s head coach Daryl Powell now wants his team to show what they can really do against the winners of last year’s League Leaders’ Shield to prove their play-off qualifications after missing out on 2020.
“Wigan is always very physical and that will be the first thing we need to get right,” said Powell. “It’s a great opportunity for us to prove what this year is about.
“We started very well, but there are some big challenges ahead of us and this is obviously one.”
See the action from the Mend-A-Hose jungle as Castleford Tigers beat Leigh Centurions with 50 points.
Despite Richardson’s return, Castleford will be without Gareth O’Brien and Jesse Sene-Lefao due to injury after being given a one-game suspension.
Wigan Warriors: Bevan French, Zak Hardaker, Thomas Leuluai, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Joe Bullock, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Oliver Partington, Morgan Smithies, Tony Clubb, Liam Byrne, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Jake Bibby, Mitch Clark Joe Shorrocks, James McDonnell, Umyla Hanley and Jackson Hastings.
Castleford Tigers: Niall Evalds, Derrell Olpherts, Peter Mata’utia, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes, Cheyse Blair, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey, George Griffin, Tyla Hepi, Daniel Smith, Greg Eden, Jordan Turner, Lewis Bienek, Brad Martin and Sam Hall.
Giants strive for consistency in the game
Huddersfield’s new era under Ian Watson, dubbed by many experts this year as a possible dark horse in the Super League, has so far only brought one win from four games played in the Challenge Cup against newly promoted Leigh.
Huddersfield Giants versus St Helens
April 22, 2021, 7:00 p.m.
The Giants couldn’t continue that win on their return to the Super League last Friday as they were ousted 25:24 by Hull Kingston Rovers in the second half despite a Lee Gaskell-inspired setback.
Club captain Michael Lawrence has identified this lack of consistency in previous games as the main problem for Huddersfield this year.
“I think we were very sketchy,” Lawrence told Sky Sports. “We had a good second half against Catalans, we were good against Leigh for 60 minutes and although we won there was an area in that game where we got a little sloppy.”
“At the weekend we didn’t play until the second half, so we have to achieve this consistency. If we put this 80-minute performance together we will start shooting and get some wins.”
Huddersfield skipper Michael Lawrence says his team has not been consistent this season.
“It’s a great game and a great opportunity for us to face the back-to-back champions.”
The Saints prepared for the toughest challenge yet
In contrast, the reigning champions St. Helens could hardly have started their search for a third title in a row in the Super League and are at the top of the rankings after three rounds after the 34: 6 win against Wakefield Trinity last week can.
Despite the opposing fortunes of the two teams in the opening rounds of the 2021 season, head coach Kristian Woolf has warned his players that this will be the toughest test they have faced so far of the season.
The Australian expects the Giants to improve their game as they host the back-to-back champions and expects the quality of their squad to come to the fore sooner rather than later.
All attempts from Totally Wicked Stadium last week when St. Helens won 34-6 winners against Wakefield Trinity.
“I see it as potentially our toughest challenge yet,” said Woolf, who can do without Tommy Makinson with a minor foot injury but welcomes Sione Mata’utia back. “I think if you look at the Huddersfield roster, they have a very classy roster.
“If you lose a few games you get some real steel if you want to turn that around, and that’s what I would expect them to have this week.”
“We definitely expect the teams to come and do their best when they play against us – we get that every week. It’s certainly what we have had in the last few games and I wouldn’t expect anything else this weekend. “
Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Jake Wardle, Darnell McIntosh, Lee Gaskell, Aidan Sezer, Luke Yates, Adam O’Brien, Michael Lawrence, Kenny Edwards, Josh Jones, Matty English, Jack Cogger, Chris McQueen, Jack Ashworth, James Cunningham, Oliver Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, James Gavet, Louis Senior, Sam Wood and Ronan Michael.
St. Helens: Lachlan Coote, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Joel Thompson, James Bentley, Sione Mata’utia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Agnatius Paasi, Jack Welsby, Aaron Smith, Joe Batchelor, Lewis Dodd, Jake Wingfield, Dan Norman and Tom Nisbet.