Quins RL face a tough away trip to the JJB Stadium tomorrow, facing the danger of a backlash from a Wigan team that has started the season slowly despite a clutch of high profile signings during the winter.
The star player of side is undoubtedly former St George-Illawarra standoff Trent Barrett. Barrett played seven times for New South Wales in State of Origin as well as winning seven caps for the Kangaroos. Partnering him in the halves is a player Quins fans will need no introduction to, Thomas Leuluai. It has been suggested that the Wigan side has yet to gel around this new pivotal combination and Brian McDermott will be hoping that this state of affairs will continue tomorrow night.
Up front the Warriors have Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden, a controversial signing from Bradford last season, who unluckily for Quins appears to be pulling out of a recent run of poor form. Kiwi international prop Iafeta Paleaaesina also gives the Wigan outfit great go forward with his barnstorming runs. Around the rucks Quins will have to watch out for scooting runs from livewire hooker Mickey Higham, whilst former London Bronco Shane Millard is likely to mix things up with a more physical approach from dummy half.
In the backs Michael Withers and David Vaealiki are solid players capable of doing a professional job whilst former Australian international Phil Bailey also boasts plenty of top-class experience albeit he is likely to play at centre rather than the back-row where he spent most of his NRL career. One to watch out for is youngster Chris Ashton who saw a meteoric rise last season with some outstanding performances playing mainly at fullback.
In recent years Wigan have been accused of a counter productive short-term approach to team building, with promising youngsters often being forced in favour of high profile, but well past their prime, imports, only to see these players develop with other clubs. The decline of a club that once dominated UK rugby league as the only professional club in an otherwise semi-professional sport has been tough on fans with high expectations, but to their credit the crowds have remained loyal even when the side flirted with relegation last season.
On the Quins side Brian McDermott will be hoping his side manages to avoid the loss of concentration that saw Warrington overturn a 12 point lead last week. The contest between Danny Orr and Leuluai who traded places in the off season is likely to have a major influence on the match. Elsewhere Tyrone Smith is tipped to return to the side after spending last week in the senior academy, as is Michael Worrincy who is also named in the squad after also missing out against Warrington.
A win tomorrow night would be a major boost to the Quins, proving that the form they showed in the first three rounds was no fluke but they will need to be wary of a Wigan side containing plenty of quality.