Super League preview: Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos
Wigan take on Leeds at the DW Stadium on Thursday as the sides vie for third place in the Super League table.
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 05/09/13 10:05am
The Warriors currently hold that spot courtesy of a superior points difference but the Rhinos know a win would allow them to leapfrog Thursday's hosts.
A win or a draw would be enough for the home side to take third and set up a play-off meeting at Warrington and leave Leeds facing the prospect of a trip to leaders Huddersfield in week one of the play-offs.
Despite beating Hull FC to win the Challenge Cup at Wembley last month, Wigan have been in indifferent form of late in Super League and lost to Hull last time out, 34-33, albeit with a much-changed side.
By contrast, the Rhinos are flying and have won five of their last six, including a 20-12 victory over Catalan Dragons last Friday.
Wigan boss Shaun Wane welcomes back a host of key players including Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards and Liam Farrell after they missed the Super League encounter with Hull through a mix of minor injuries and being rested.
Captain Sean O'Loughlin does not make the 19, however, with a calf injury ruling him out. The problem is expected to sideline him for a month.
Sam Tomkins confirmed that he was fit for the Hull game and that his omission was to ensure that he was in peak condition for the play-offs after spells on the sidelines this campaign.
"I was fit last week," he said. "We had a tough game at Wembley. We had a couple recovering from knocks and we're getting ready for play-offs.
"A lot of young lads deserved a chance and the way they played against Hull shows the future is looking bright for Wigan.
"I'm 100 per cent fit now. I've had a couple of knocks this season which have kept me out and that's not normal for me. I only normally miss a handful of games."
Meanwhile, Leeds pair Brett Delaney and Jamie Jones-Buchanan will hope to make their long awaited returns from injury after being named in the squad, Mitch Achurch retains his place but Richard Moore misses out.
Ryan Bailey is missing after being hit with a one-match ban for punching Dragons winger Damien Blanch in last Friday's clash at Headingley, youngster Alex Foster takes his place.
Wigan Warriors: Charnley, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hansen, McIlorum, Mossop, A. Powell, S. Powell, Richards, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, S. Tomkins, L. Tomkins, Tuson.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Foster, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Singleton, Sutcliffe.