Opposition Profile – Wigan Warriors
The Rhinos return to Emerald Headingley this Friday to take on Adrian Lam’s Wigan Warriors in Round 18 of the Betfred Super League. Wigan took first blood against the Rhinos back in February with a 34-16 win at the DW Stadium, but since then, have found themselves mid table. With only two points separating them from Richard Agar’s Rhinos side, read more about the Warriors heading into Friday’s feature game on Sky Sports.
At the start of the season, many predicted that Wigan would continue to grow and achieve after winning their fifth Grand Final in 2018. With former halfback Adrian Lam returning to take the coaching baton from Shaun Wane at the DW Stadium and the major addition of Zak Hardaker to a largely unchanged squad, the Warriors looked to be contenders to retain their title.
But the transition out of the ‘Shaun Wane era’ wouldn’t be that easy as Lam’s side have struggled to find consistency in 2019. In the opening six rounds, Wigan’s only win came against Leeds in round two, as the Champions struggled against London, Huddersfield and Hull.
After losing out twice to Warrington in the Challenge Cup and at the Magic Weekend and Catalans at Barcelona’s Nou Camps, Wigan left it late at KCOM Craven Park to claim a much needed win over Hull KR last weekend. George Williams, Dan Sarginson, Joe Burgess and Liam Marshall all crossed for Wigan before Sam Powell confidently slotted a 40 metre drop goal to ensure Lam’s side remained two points above the bottom three.
Meetings between the Rhinos and Warriors have always been a highlighted fixture in the Super League calendar, with both sides taking part in memorable clashes since the dawn of Super League.
The Warriors’ biggest win at Emerald Headingley came in 2012 as Shaun Wane’s side continued their domination at the top of the league with a 8-50 win against the Rhinos; eight different players scored tries for Wigan that day.
The Headingley crowd have had something to cheer about though, notably in 2005 when the Rhinos thrashed the visitors 70-0. Having lost four of their last five matches, Wigan capitulated at the hands of Tony Smith’s Rhinos, with Rob Burrow, Mark Calderwood, Barrie McDermott, Danny McGuire and Chev Walker all scoring twice.
On three occasions, both sides have been inseparable, settling for draws in 2003 and 2011 thanks to late tries from Wigan. The comeback of 2011 saw the Warriors dig deep to score three times in twenty minutes after being 22-4 down. Tries from Sam Tomkins, Darrell Goulding and Paul Prescott, plus a late penalty from full back Tomkins, salvaged a point for Michael Maguire’s side, who remained top of the league.
Last Ten Matches at Headingley
Record against the Rhinos
Since the start of Super League in 1996, Wigan have the most wins against the Rhinos overall. The Warriors have claimed victory 40 times over Leeds, including the 1998 Grand Final, and have won both home and away fixtures for seven seasons (1996, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2018).
At Headingley specifically, Leeds (14) have one more win than their Lancastrian counterparts (13). Wigan remained unbeaten against the Rhinos for two seasons before Leeds, coached by Graham Murray, finally broke the spell, winning 16-8 in front of a home crowd.
From 2013 to 2017, Wigan failed to win at Headingley on seven occasions. This included both the Super 8s match in 2015 and 2017 as Leeds went on to claim the Super League title in both seasons. With the exception of 2013 though, over the same period of time Wigan were unbeaten at the DW Stadium.
In the News
Last week Wigan announced the signings of prop Mitch Clark from Castleford and winger Jake Bibby from Salford for the 2020 season. Clark has made eight appearances for the Tigers since signing from Hull KR whilst Bibby is fulfilling a boyhood ambition signing for the Warriors.
The club also announced contract extensions for six players. First team winger Joe Burgess and prop Tony Clubb and centre Chris Hankinson have penned extension deals whilst Oliver Partington, Morgan Smithies and Jack Wells have signed lengthy deals to stay at the DW.
Centre Dan Sarginson will be one game away from making 150 Super League appearances, should he feature against the Rhinos. The England centre has made 104 appearances for Wigan over two stints and 44 appearances for London.
Dummy Half Runs: 69
Marker Tackles: 122
Last time out
When Wigan visited Emerald Headingley in 2018, only a point separated the two sides; Sam Tomkins kicking the winning drop goal in the 9-8 win. A try from Oliver Gildart and a penalty from Tomkins levelled the game at 8-8 before the Wigan full back slotted the drop goal to take the two points.
Adrian Lam has made four changes to this Friday’s squad. Zak Hardaker went off with a hamstring injury last week and will miss out on facing his former club. Prop Ben Flower suffered a back injury against the Robins and will be absent along with Taulima Tautai and Jake Shorrocks.
French internationals Morgan Escare and Romain Navarrete are straight swaps for Hardaker and Flower in terms of their positions, whilst youngster Liam Byrne and the experienced Jarrod Sammut are also included in the squad.
Remember that if you book ahead of matchday you’ll secure the best available price on your ticket saving £3 on match day ticket prices.
Find out more at: https://www.therhinos.co.uk/2019/06/10/one-week-to-go-until-wigan-clash/