Opposition Overview: Wigan Warriors

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Wigan Warriors - Jai Field

As the Play Offs draw nearer, two clubs vying for a place in the top six, Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors, clash in Round 21 of the Betfred Super League on Wednesday night at the DW Stadium.

The hosts are going back to the 90s for their Retro Round with ticket prices reverting to those from 1995 and fans can buy their tickets here. The game is also live on Sky Sports Arena, kick off 7.45pm.


2021 so far..

Following on from lifting the League Leader’s Shield and a Grand Final appearance in 2020, Wigan Warriors have had an impressive season and are fourth in the league heading into Wednesday’s game.

The return of John Bateman to the club, as well as the high profile signing of Jai Field, bolstered a squad that remains largely unchanged from 2020, . Wigan also secured the services of head coach Adrian Lam for another year, after he lifted the Coach of the Year award.

The Warriors opened their account for 2021 with a comeback win against Leigh before restricting Wakefield to scoring only three points at the Totally Wicked Stadium. The cherry and whites’ winning streak continued to five as they downed Leeds 19-6 at Emerald Headingley, as well as Castleford, Hull FC, Leigh again and Salford to remain unbeaten. They were shaken by a trip to Catalans Dragons, that saw the French outfit run eight unanswered tries passed Lam’s side. Results got worse as the Warriors lost their next four against Wakefield, Hull KR, Warrington and St Helens.

Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com – 20/08/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 20 – Wigan Warriors v St Helens – DW Stadium, Wigan, England – Wigan Warriors’ Jackson Hastings in action

Over their last eight games, Wigan have been inconsistent, claiming emphatic wins or being defeated by big scorelines. Back to back wins against Huddersfield brought the Warriors back to winning ways, after losing their last five, before Wakefield and Leigh were defeated again – sandwiched between was a 21-8 defeat to play off rivals Warrington. A ten point margin was enough to beat Salford for a third time but Hull KR proved too strong at Hull College Craven Park two weeks ago; Jez Litten, Kane Linnett, Albert Vete, Ethan Ryan and Rowan Milnes scoring the tries for the Robins in response to a brace from Liam Marshall and a try for Jake Bibby.

In the highly anticipated derby game against St Helens, Lam’s side only managed two points as they were deflated by St Helens 26-2, although they do look set to finish in the top six. Their run in though is one of the hardest as they play Castleford, Warrington, Hull FC and Catalans after Wednesday’s game against Leeds, all of which are fighting to decide the final Play Off places.


2021 Squad


This Month’s Fixtures


Young Star

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com – 11/07/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 14 – Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants – DW Stadium, Wigan, England – Kai Pearce-Paul of Wigan Warriors

Among the many young stars that are coming through at Wigan, second rower Kai Pearce-Paul is standing out as one for fans to watch out for in the future.

The twenty-year-old from Bromley came through London Broncos’ academy system and signed a four year contract with the cherry and whites at the end of 2019. He made his first appearance of the season in a 17-16 win against Salford Red Devils and over thirteen appearances, the forward has moved into the top three offloaders in the competition – behind team mate John Bateman and David Fifita. Along with fellow youngsters Ethan Havard, Oli Partington and Joe Shorrocks, he is also one of Wigan’s top tacklers during this campaign.

A Lancashire Academy representative too, Pearce-Paul will come up against some familiar faces in the Rhinos pack, including Jarrod O’Connor and Sam Walters, who also donned the red rose in the 2019 Origin series.


The Captain

A notable absentee from Wednesday’s game will be Warriors stalwart Thomas Leuluai, who was ruled out until the end of the season with a hamstring injury.

Coming from an extended family of rugby league players that includes former Hull FC player James and former Leeds prop Kylie, Leuluai first made the switch from the NRL to Super League in 2005, after two seasons with New Zealand Warriors. At first, he signed with London for two years but was snapped up by Wigan in 2007 and over six years, was an instant hit; a highlight being when the Warriors lifted the Grand Final in 2010 and the half back was named the Harry Sunderland trophy winner.

A Challenge Cup win over Leeds in 2011 saw Leuluai add another piece of silverware to his personal tally but after a fruitless 2012, he returned to New Zealand in 2013.

Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com – 28/07/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 16 – Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors – Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England – Wigan Warriors’ Thomas Leuluai applauds the fans after the game

The call of Wigan beckoned again though and in 2017, after Wigan had competed in the last four Grand Finals, Leuluai returned to Shaun Wane’s side, bringing his wealth of NRL and international experience with him. He missed only one game in 2018, when the cherry and white’s lifted the Super League trophy once again, and was a key component in helping Adrian Lam’s side lift the League Leaders’ Shield and feature in the Grand Final last year. For 2021, following the retirement of Sean O’Loughlin, he was awarded the captaincy and played in 13 games before suffering a hamstring injury that ended his campaign. The half back is without a contract for 2022 at the moment so it could be his last game in a Warriors jersey.


Returning Faces

Two members of Adrian Lam’s squad return to face their former side on Wednesday night. Zak Hardaker and Brad Singleton both enjoyed long stints at the Rhinos but made the move to Wigan in recent years.

Hardaker (pictured), was brought into the Leeds squad in 2011 from Featherstone Rovers and over the next five years, helped the club win three Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, one World Club Challenge and one League Leaders’ Shield. In the Rhinos’ treble season, he was also awarded the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.

Alongside Hardaker, Singleton is another former Rhino within Adrian Lam’s ranks. The prop came through the Rhinos’ Academy system and debuted in 2011 before going on to make 158 league appearances in blue and amber. He signed for Wigan from Toronto on a three-year deal in 2020 and could be back into the squad following his three match ban.


Last Game vs Leeds at DW Stadium

Leeds Rhinos lost out to league leaders Wigan after two late scores sealed the win for the Warriors in a tight contest.

The Rhinos played their first ‘on the road’ fixture since the coronavirus lockdown with a trip against to St Helens to take on the Warriors but fell to a 28-10 defeat; Liam Sutcliffe and Tom Briscoe scoring the tries.


Tickets

Retro Round is coming to the DW Stadium when the Rhinos take on Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Super League on Wednesday 25th August, kick off 7.45pm.

The day will be a celebration of all things 90s and ticket prices revert back to 1995 when the Wigan club was based at Central Park. Tickets for the Round 21 clash are now on sale and it costs just £10 for Adults (Over-16s) and only £5 for Under-16s.

You can buy tickets in either of these two ways:

  • Buy online – tickets.therhinos.co.uk
  • ​Call the Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office on 0371 423 1315 (Monday to Friday 10.30am – 3.30pm)

For more information, click here.