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 - Oliver Gildart

The Betfred Super League Play Offs are here and Leeds Rhinos kick off the road to Old Trafford on Thursday night when Richard Agar’s side travels to face Adrian Lam’s Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium, kick off 7:45pm.

Rhinos fans can buy their tickets for Thursday’s crucial clash here and the game is also live on Sky Sports Arena, starting from 7pm, and BBC Radio Leeds.

Regular Season Review

It has been a mixed season for Wigan Warriors but the cherry and whites will be aiming to return to Old Trafford before they say goodbye to head coach Adrian Lam and players Tony Clubb, Oliver Gildart, Jackson Hastings and Dom Manfredi at the end of the season.

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 Paul Currie/SWpix.com – 17/09/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 25 – Wigan Warriors v Catalans Dragons – DW Stadium, Wigan, England – Zak Hardaker of Wigan Warriors is tackled by Catalans Dragons’ Gil Dudson and Joel Tomkins

Towards the end of the season, Wigan hit an inconsistent patch, 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 with a 26-14 win.

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, before Leeds kept the home side scoreless at the DW Stadium in round 21. Despite their critics, Wigan finished the campaign strongly with three wins from four; beating Castleford, Hull FC and the league leader’s Catalans to secure fourth place.

On Thursday night, they meet with Leeds in the play offs for the first time since 2013. Excluding Grand Finals, the two clubs have met eleven times in the post season during the Super League era; Leeds winning five and Wigan winning six), and this week’s game will also be the fourth consecutive play off game played between the two sides at the DW Stadium.

2021 Squad

Previous Play Off Form

Along with the Rhinos, Wigan are one of the most successful club’s when it comes to the Super League Play Offs. Since the competition changed from the Premiership Trophy to the post season play offs in 1998, Wigan have played in 55 play off matches, including their Grand Final appearances in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020 (*those in bold they won).

Out of those 55 games, Wigan have 35 wins and 20 losses.Their best play off campaigns came in 2013, when they beat Leeds, Huddersfield and Warrington on their way to lifting the Super League trophy and also the League and Challenge Cup double. It also kick started a run that saw the Warriors reach Old Trafford for the next four years, winning two and losing two.

SeasonPlay Off Finish
1998Grand Final (Beat Leeds Rhinos)
1999Elimination Playoff (Beaten by Castleford Tigers)
2000Grand Final (Lost to St Helens)
2001Grand Final (Lost to Bradford Bulls)
2002Final Eliminator (Lost to St Helens)
2003Grand Final (Lost to Bradford Bulls)
2004Final Eliminator (Lost to Leeds Rhinos)
2005*Didn’t make the Play Offs
2006*Didn’t make the Play Offs
2007Final Eliminator (Lost to Leeds Rhinos)
2008Final Eliminator (Lost to Leeds Rhinos)
2009Qualifying Semi Final (Lost to St Helens)
2010Grand Final (Beat St Helens)
2011Qualifying Semi Final (Lost to St Helens)
2012Qualifying Semi Final (Lost to Leeds Rhinos)
2013Grand Final (Beat Warrington Wolves)
2014Grand Final (Lost to St Helens)
2015Grand Final (Lost to Leeds Rhinos)
2016Grand Final (Beat Warrington Wolves)
2017*Didn’t make the Play Offs
2018Grand Final (Beat Warrington Wolves)
2019Preliminary Final (Lost to Salford Red Devils)
2020Grand Final (Lost to St Helens)

Looking at their last five play off games though, the Warriors’ form under Adrian Lam has been inconsistent. Since Lam’s arrival in 2019, Wigan came within touching distance of the Grand Final in his first season, Salford shocking the four time champions with 28-4 win at the DW Stadium, before they finally reached the Final in 2020, only for Jack Welsby to snatch the title for St Helens on the hooter.

The only times when Wigan haven’t featured in the post season was in 2005, 2006 and 2017; the latter was due to the Warriors finishing outside the top four of the Super 8s.

Key Player

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

Closing in on another Grand Final appearance, it’s hard to look passed half back Jackson Hastings as Wigan’s general and key playmaker.

In his final season at the club, before he departs back to the NRL, Hastings will look to lead Wigan back to the Grand Final, after the cherry and whites came up short last season. Having been on the losing end of the 2019 final with Salford Red Devils, the half back will be eager to ensure the home side make it passed Leeds and be in with a chance of walking out at Old Trafford once again.

Hastings only missed three games for the Warriors during the regular season and, as well as playing his usual half back position, has featured at hooker or full back on occasion, due to injuries to Zak Hardaker, Jai Field and Tommy Leuluai. He has once again been in the top three try assisters in Super League, ranking first among Wigan’s players, and has also been a leading players in carries, runs and line break assists.

Returning Faces

Two members of Adrian Lam’s squad return to face their former side on Thursday 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.

Last Game vs Leeds at DW Stadium

The Rhinos bowed out of the 2013 season with a 22-12 defeat at Wigan but they showed the bravery and spirit Leeds fans have come to expect from their side.

Joel Moon and Liam Sutcliffe scored the only tries for the Rhinos as the Warriors edged closer to sealing the Super League and Challenge Cup double that season.

Tickets and More Information

SL.Rd21. Warriors v Rhinos. Weds 25thAug2021. © MATTHEW MERRICK PHOTOGRAPHY

With victory over Hull KR in their final game of the regular Betfred Super League season, Leeds Rhinos secured fifth place, meaning they will travel to the DW Stadium on Thursday 23rd September to face Wigan Warriors, kick off 7.45pm.

Tickets for the game are on sale now and Leeds Rhinos 2021 Season Members, 2021 Flexi Members and 2021 Supporter Members can also save £5 on their own ticket when purchased before midnight on the day before the game. This will automatically discount in the basket page when ordering through Leeds Rhinos.

You can secure your place by purchasing your tickets in one of the following ways:  
Online Tickets are available 24/7 at tickets.therhinos.co.uk  
Over the Phone You can contact Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office on 0371 423 1315 during the following opening hours: Saturday 18th September, 9:30am to 12:30pm Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd September, 10:30am to 3:30pm Thursday 23rd September, 10:30am to 3pm  

For more information, click here.