Kick Off: 2000, 24/02/2017
Stadium: DW Stadium
TV: Sky Sports 2
We’re hoping Wigan may have been celebrating their World Club Challenge win a little too much this week as Widnes are fancied at 91/100 getting 16 points start off the Warriors in Friday night’s Super League tussle at DW Stadium.
It would be foolish to try and pick holes in Wigan’s superb 22-6 defeat of Cronulla on Sunday, although Sharks coach Shane Flanagan may disagree when reflecting on a succession of 50-50 refereeing decisions that went the Super League side’s way.
Having tipped the Warriors to shine in that match, we’re much happier to accept it was simply a fantastic effort, with Shaun Wane’s team justly rewarded for their passion, commitment and attacking precision when the opportunities arose.
However, any clash with an Australian NRL outfit is always a bruising encounter and the Wigan players will no doubt have felt the effects of some punishing tackles when the adrenaline of victory wore off on Monday morning.
Wane is far too professional to permit any unnecessary slackening off in training this week, but having only five days to recover from such a gruelling war of attrition and go again is far from generous.
The coach has insisted he will have a strong squad to pick from but admitted there were “lots of bumps and bruises” after going toe-to-toe with such a tough, uncompromising side.
“This week is a mental week, we can’t get the players out on the field much so will need to make sure we prepare well mentally,” noted Wane. “We might not get a sparkling performance but we want to win the game.”
Widnes kicked off their campaign with a slightly disappointing 28-16 home loss to Huddersfield but they can take great heart from last season’s performances against Wigan, when only losing 7-0 at home and twice claiming upset wins at DW Stadium, prevailing 18-12 in round six and 8-6 in the Super 8s.
Vikings coach Denis Betts felt a poor first-half penalty count drained his side of energy against the Giants, but hopefully they can put that right on Friday night and be competitive at the very least.
Warrington have an extra day to recover from their thrilling defeat of Brisbane in the other World Club Series fixture but are still worth taking on for many of the same reasons stated above when they entertain Castleford on Friday.
The free-scoring Tigers showed plenty of their trademark attacking flair when outclassing Leigh in week one and will be fired up for this early-season challenge, so take them at 91/100 with six points start.