Injury-stricken league leaders Wigan Warriors will turn to youth as they bid to equal a club record 11-match Super League unbeaten run at Widnes Vikings tonight.
The Warriors have won each of their last ten games – a sequence which started with a 62-4 thrashing of the Vikings in March – but are missing nine senior players tonight.
But coach Shaun Wane insists his young players will be up to the task as the Warriors look to maintain their three-point lead over second-placed Huddersfield Giants.
“I will expect the 17 that play to be competitive and be able to get the two points,” he told the club’s website.
“I am very proud of both our attack and defence record and I expect a certain level of performance from any side that plays.
“Despite giving a couple of debuts I still expect a certain level of performance and the indication in training is that I will get it.”
Missing the short trip to Merseyside are captain Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, Liam Farrell, Blake Green, Matty Smith, Michael McIlorum, Ben Flower, Gil Dudson and Pat Richards.
In their places, 18-year-olds Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney, son of cross-code legend Jason Robinson, will be handed their Warriors’ debuts.
And Wane is excited about the prospect of the Rugby Union World Cup Winner’s son following his father in pulling on a Warriors’ shirt.
“Lewis is an out and out full-back, he is busy very strong and brings the ball back well,” Wane added.
“He has good skills on him and he is looking forward to his chance.”
Widnes stunned Wigan with a thrilling 37-36 victory at the Stobart Stadium last year, but the Warriors have scored 116 points in two home victories since.
However, Wane is expecting a tough encounter against former Wigan team mate Denis Betts’ side on their synthetic pitch.
“Every time we go to Widnes they seem to lift their game,” he said.
“They have some good players who are well coached by Denis and there are also a few players that used to play for us who will want to prove a point, they will be competitive.
“Widnes can score tries with their good edges and I will be making sure that we are really focussed and turn up with our ‘A’ game.
“They certainly have the ability to score points from anywhere on the park but so can we. It has all the ingredients of a great game.”
Image courtesy of SuperLeagueTV, via YouTube, with thanks.