Super League preview: Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants
Last Updated: 09/08/13 9:55pm
Top spot in Super League is up for grabs at the DW Stadium on Friday when Wigan play host to league leaders Huddersfield, live on Sky Sports 3HD.
The Warriors are just a point behind Huddersfield after beating Hull KR last week while the Giants maintained their fine form by dispatching Salford on Sunday.
Paul Anderson's men saw off the Warriors 22-10 in February while they also claimed a 20-16 success over Shaun Wane's side at the DW last season.
Huddersfield have failed to build upon positive starts in recent seasons, but victory for the West Yorkshire club over last season's League Leaders' Shield winners would further enhance their Grand Final prospects.
A win for Huddersfield would leave Wigan a mountain to climb to claim top spot with just three rounds of the league calendar remaining, while Warrington Wolves also have their eyes on the prize.
The hosts are boosted ahead of the match by the news that Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Liam Farrell and Gil Dudson all return to Wane's 19-man squad.
Tomkins, who was replaced by Ryan Hampshire against the Robins, is back after illness while goal-kicking winger Richards comes in for youngster Joe Burgess.
"Sam is good. He had a bit of food poisoning, a 24-hour bug. It was just bad timing," explained Wane, who will be without Matty Smith, Sean O'Loughlin and Ben Flower.
"We have got a few little knocks and bruises that we'll need to check on. It'll be late on that I select my team - which is quite common. It is just that stage of the season - 20-odd rounds when you get week-in, week-out knocks."
The Giants also welcome back players from injury with hooker Shaun Lunt and forward Jason Chan fit and available - the pair have come in for Josh Johnson and Nathan Mason.
In-form centre Joe Wardle, who is forming a lethal left-side partnership with back-row forward Brett Ferres and winger Aaron Murphy, cannot wait to go head-to-head with the Warriors.
"I can't wait for Friday," Wardle told the Huddersfield Examiner. "When you take up the game, you dream of playing in top-of-the-table games in front of big crowds at places like Wigan.
"We know if we go there and win, we'll put ourselves in a fantastic position to lift the League Leaders Shield. Obviously, it's not going to be easy, but we know we can do it - and I know we'll be ready.
"Personally, this is the biggest game of my career so far, but I'm really looking forward to it. I absolutely love testing myself against the best and showing what I can do on the biggest stages, and this stage is massive."
Wigan: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, S. Powell, Richards, Taylor, Thornley, L. Tomkins, S. Tomkins, Tuson.
Huddersfield: Grix, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Faiumu, Lawrence, Patrick, Chan, Ta'ai, Murphy, Cording, Ferguson, Wood.
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K RvsSalford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield WildcatsvsHull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington WolvesvsWigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds RhinosvsSt Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Hull K R
Hull FC0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League 2013, round 24
Daryl Powell praised Castleford for their second-half efforts after they secured a dramatic 42-38 victory at Widnes.
Hull FC coach Peter Gentle praised his players after they came from behind to defeat local rivals Hull KR 38-20.
Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous singled out Elliott Whitehead after the 23-22 win over Bradford.
- Bulls' hopes go up in smoke
- Cas edge thriller at Widnes
- Hull muscle past Rovers
- Smith: Wolves were scrappy
- Wolves hit Wildcats for six
- Anderson: We've won nothing
- 'Ugly' win pleases Cunningham
- McDermott impressed by Salford
- Saints see off tame Broncos
- Giants show title credentials
- Wildcats boss expects response
- Vikings v Tigers: Teams
- Hull KR v Hull FC: Teams
- Bulls v Dragons: Teams
- Wolves v Wildcats: Teams
- Ferres aiming for big finish
- City Reds v Rhinos: Teams
- Saints v Broncos: Teams
- Tomkins back to face Giants
- Wane promises improved Wigan