Wigan kick-off new Super League season with a trip to Widnes
Wigan will be hoping to erase memories of last season, when they lost to St Helens in the Grand Final, by getting their new campaign off to a flyer with a win at Widnes.
The Warriors are odds-on 2/7 favourites with Coral to beat Dennis Betts’ Vikings side, who achieved a respectable eighth placed finish last season, and shouldn’t be underestimated. With the likes of last season’s top try scorer Paddy Flynn (16 tries), Rhys Hanbury (15) and Kevin Brown (12) who is always a handful at stand-off, the home side have plenty of talent among their ranks.
There is a question mark over whether Flynn’s availability, though Hanbury is a 12/1 chance to score first, while New Zealand winger Patrick Ah Van is 14/1 in the same market. Australian international Cameron Phelps could well be good value at 13/8 to cross the whitewash anytime.
Shaun Wayne’s side though, who are 3/1 favourites to win the Grand Final this season, will be hoping top try-scorer from 2014 Josh Charnley can pick up where he left off, and as a result, is 6/1 to breach the in-goal area first. Joe Burgess, who recently agreed a deal to move to the NRL at the end of the campaign to join South Sydney Rabbitohs, will be hoping for a big season, and is 13/2 to score the first try.
Joel Tomkins, meanwhile, who is feeling 100 per cent after a full pre-season, has fired a warning shot to the rest of Super League. The 27-year-old, who is 13/8 to score anytime, re-joined Wigan midway through last year from Saracens rugby union and had to wait six weeks to make his debut after re-adjusting back to life in rugby league and recovering from a back injury.
“Coming back half way through a season is tough but coming back with a back injury and playing a different sport was very difficult. I probably felt a bit under cooked last season to be honest but it’s nice to have had a proper pre-season and to be fit and ready to go. I feel 100% better,” Tomkins told the club’s official website.
“It was a tough season and it was similar when I went to rugby union. It’s tough going to a different sport midway through the year, the way the seasons run I was always going to have to do it one way or the other. When I finish playing rugby I think I’ll look back on that as the toughest season of my career so it’s just nice to have a full pre-season and really get in with the lads, get to know everyone properly and go into this season with some confidence.”