Venue: DW Stadium
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Matty Bowen, Joe Burgess, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Ryan Hampshire, Dom Manfredi, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Larne Patrick, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Taulima Tautai, Joel Tomkins , Logan Tomkins, George Williams.
Warrington Wolves: Roy Asotasi, Chris Bridge, Daryl Clark, Ben Currie, Anthony England, Ben Harrison, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, George King, Toby King, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan, Richie Myler, Gene Ormsby, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Ashton Sims, Ben Westwood
Last 10 Meetings:
Wigan 16-12 Warrington (SLGFE 3/10/14)
Wigan 24, Warrington 20 (SLR27, 11/9/14)
Warrington 4, Wigan 12 (SLR6, 20/3/14)
Warrington 16, Wigan 30 (SLGF, 5/10/13)
Warrington 22, Wigan 12 (SLR19, 24/6/13)
Wigan 17, Warrington 17 (SLR2, 8/2/13)
Warrington 30, Wigan 10 (SLR24, 11/8/12)
Wigan 20, Warrington 22 (SLR8, 23/3/12)
Warrington 39, Wigan 12 (SLR26, 4/9/11)
Warrington 24, Wigan 44 (CCQF, 23/7/11)
Ben Flower looks set to return to action after completing his six month ban for punching Lance Hohaia in last year’s Grand Final defeat to St Helens.
Head-coach Shaun Wane said of the Welsh international; “He just wants to get back to what he’s paid to do, which is playing rugby and being one of best front-rows in the competition.
“He’s fit, he’s had a long pre-season so he’s dying to rip in and get starting playing for us.”
Wane has urged Flower to be aggressive on his return to first-team action, something that the prop fully intends to do; “If I take away my aggression, it will destroy my game. I’m not the biggest prop so I need that front to get through the game otherwise I’ll just be a standard prop,” Flower told Sky Sports.
John Bateman also returns to the 19-man squad after receiving a one-game suspension for fighting with Salford’s Weller Hauraki on Easter Monday. Lewis Tierney and Ryan Sutton make way for the returning duo.
Warrington will be without Ryan Atkins for the Thursday Thriller, but Declan Patton and Gene Ormsby retain their places from the 80-0 hammering of Wakefield.
Toby King also keeps his place in Tony Smith’s provisional squad. The 18 year-old winger scored two tries in last Saturday’s win in what was his first appearance of the season.
Smith realises that his side face a much tougher test than they did last Saturday, saying: “It is totally a different opposition that we’re going to be fronting up to in only a few days’ time [Thursday night].
“We understand that but if we can play with some of the nous, smarts and energy that we showed against Wakefield then we can get in there and compete.
“I think it showed everybody that we’re a team that is capable.”
Thursday’s match will be the first meeting between the two sides since last October’s Grand Final Eliminator which Wigan won at The DW. In fact, The Warriors have won the last four meetings between the two teams.
Winger Joel Monaghan enjoys playing against The Cherry and Whites, scoring 12 tries in his 10 appearances against them.
Prediction: Wigan by 8
Thursday’s game should be a cracker and it could go either way. However, Wigan have had the measure of The Wolves over the past few meetings and will certainly be bouyed by the return of Ben Flower. The jury is still out on Warrington this season, despite last week’s demolishion of bottom of the table Wakefield.