WIGAN WARRIORS V BRISBANE BRONCOS PREVIEW

Game two of the World Club Series sees beaten Super League Grand Finalists Wigan Warriors take on Brisbane Broncos at the DW Stadium on Saturday night.

Wayne Bennett’s Broncos finished in 8th place in the NRL last year and were eliminated in round one of the play-offs.

Bennett last took Brisbane to England eight years ago, when they were beaten by St Helens in Bolton.

The two sides have met twice before, with Brisbane winning in 1992 and the Warriors triumphing two years later.

The hosts will be without influential captain Sean O’Loughlin, who has undergone knee surgery after picking up an injury in last Friday’s win over Huddersfield.

Young half-back Sam Powell also misses out after been charged with a chicken wing tackle in Friday’s victory, for which he has submitted an early guilty plea and picked up a one match ban.

Matty Smith is available for selection again as he served his one match ban last week for kicking out at Rhys Hanbury during round one’s draw at Widnes.

Utility-back Dan Sarginson also returns to Shaun Wane’s squad after sitting out last week through injury.

Taulima Tautai and George Williams also return to the Warriors squad following injuries.

Last season the Cherry and Whites headed down under to take on Sydney Roosters in the Championship game but were comfortably beaten 36-14; and Wane believes Saturday’s match is a chance to make amends:

“We didn’t play well last year and we undersold ourselves, so we’ve got a chance to redeem ourselves when we play.

“The players are going to be revved up this week and it’s my job to make sure they’re nice and calm and focused,” he told BBC Radio Manchester.

Outside-back Tom Opacic is likely to miss out for the Broncos after suffering from a virus all week, leaving Bennett with just 17 fully fit players in his squad for the game.

With Darius Boyd a long-term absentee after rupturing his Achilles in December, Jordan Kahu is expected to start at full-back. The 24 year-old was less than convincing in that role during the trial game against North Queensland Cowboys earlier this month.

Sam Thaiday has recovered from a calf problem in time for Saturday’s clash, too.

Bennett has suggested he isn’t too concerned with the result against Wigan, but would rather use the game to help with preparations ahead of the new NRL season;

“The result is not as important as the way that we play, the way we execute our plays and get some combinations working,” he told theroar.com.

Wigan announced on Thursday that ticket sales were approaching the 18,000 mark for the highly anticipated game.

Squads:

Wigan Warriors (from): Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, L Farrell, C Farrell, Gelling, Hampshire, McIlorum, Patrick, Sarginson, Smith, Sutton, Tautai, J Tomkins, L. Tomkins, Williams.

Brisbane Broncos (from): Kahu, Vidot, Whitchurch, Hodges, Maranta, Milford, Hunt, Blair, McCullough, McGuire, Glenn, Thaiday, Parker, Dodds, Gavet, Ofahengaue, Nikorima, Opacic.

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