Warrington begin the new Super League season with a few frustrating injury problems but may still have the strength in depth to cope when visiting Catalans in the opening round on Saturday.
Wolves captain Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford, Ben Currie, Ben Westwood and Kevin Penny will all miss the trip to Perpignan while major new recruit Kevin Brown is also struggling with a hamstring problem.
However, coach Tony Smith can still call on experienced stars such as Kurt Gidley at scrum-half and hooker Daryl Clark to control the action and direct a powerful pack which has been bolstered by the tireless Mike Cooper’s return from Australia.
Midfield backs such as Ryan Atkins and Rhys Evans will always be tough to break down and wingers Tom Lineham and Matty Russell are being widely tipped to have even more of an impact on Warrington’s bid to go all the way this term, so 7/10 for the Wolves to win in France gets our vote.
Catalans were right up there at the top of the table for large parts of last season until fading away late on but they have had to cope with losing several key players over the winter and it remains to be seen if they have recruited adequate replacements.
Top tackler Glenn Stewart has gone to Leigh, Pat Richards and Gregory Mounis have both retired, playmaker Todd Carney is now with Salford and explosive full-back Morgan Escare signed with Wigan alongside Romain Navarrete, so Laurent Frayssinous had some big gaps to fill.
New arrivals Greg Bird, Luke Walsh, Luke Burgess and Sam Moa bring with them huge experience and tactical nous but all have seen better days and could hardly be described as fresh legs.
The Dragons always set out to make the Stade Gilbert Brutus a fortress but Hull caught them cold when winning 38-10 here in round two last year and then Warrington prevailed 30-20 three games later.
Also on Saturday, Wigan are taken to cover an eight-point handicap at Salford at 91/100, with the Warriors expected to have too much all-round pace for a solid but unspectacular Red Devils outfit weakened by pre-season injuries to strike players Weller Hauraki and Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Sunday sees Hull visit Wakefield and last year’s regular-season table toppers appeal at 91/100 to win by more than six points against the Wildcats, who had the worst defence in Super League XXI.