Warrington Wolves v St Helens: Super League preview
Last Updated: March 8, 2013 7:14pm
Warrington v St Helens Preview
Warrington Wolves and St Helens meet at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday with both sides looking to get back to winning ways.
The Wolves suffered their first Super League defeat last week, going down 26-12 at Hull KR, to drop to fourth place in the table.
Coach Tony Smith is boosted by the return to fitness of centre Chris Bridge for the first time this season after knee surgery. Bridge has been included in the initial 19-man squad and will have a late fitness check before a decision on his participation is made.
The Monaghan brothers, Michael and Joel, are also back after missing the Rovers defeat with minor injuries but their fellow Australian Trent Waterhouse remains sidelined with a strained glute.
England international centre Ryan Atkins will be making his 100th appearance for the club.
"There's a lot of rivalry between the two clubs which usually brings out the best in the teams and hopefully that will be the case this week," Smith told Warrington's official website.
"Both teams are probably looking for some form and consistency, hopefully a big occasion of playing each other will help that. I think it will be a very hard-fought, tough game - at this stage of the year that's the way rugby league's got to be played. Hopefully we'll come out on the right side of a good performance."
St Helens also come into the game on the back of a defeat, in their case a 20-12 home loss to reigning champions Leeds Rhinos.
They will again be without skipper Paul Wellens due to a calf problem, while half-back Gary Wheeler has been ruled out for four months after rupturing a hamstring tendon against Leeds.
New Zealander Lance Hohaia has recovered sufficiently from the shoulder problem that has kept him out of the last three matches to be named in the initial 19-man squad and second rower Mark Flanagan is available again after a concussion.
"I've watched it (Saints' rivalry with Warrington) a lot over the past few years and seen some great games - some that Saints have won and some that Warrington have won, but generally they have been very, very good games. To be a part of it now makes it even more exciting," Saints coach Nathan Brown told St Helens TV.
"We'll go there confident we are moving in the right direction and, if we can play a bit better than we did the other night, that would be great."
Warrington squad: Atkins, Bridge, Carvell, Cooper, Currie, Evans, Grix, Higham, Hill, Hodgson, Laithwaite, McCarthy, J Monaghan, M Monaghan, Myler, Ratchford, Riley, Westwood, Wood
St Helens squad: Gardner, Turner, Soliola, Meli, Hohaia, Lomax, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Puletua, Wilkin, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Clough, Jones, Greenwood, Walmsley, Walker, Percival