After a difficult pre-season, life at the Salford City Stadium brightened this week when Dr Marwan Koukash completed his takeover of the club.
Unfortunately, it’s left Reds coach Phil Veivers with a paper-thin and youthful looking squad, and despite Koukash’s money, it may take a few weeks for the Reds to get up to speed.
New signings Rhys Williams, Ryan McGoldrick, Andrew Dixon and Jack Murphy are all in the squad, but the club’s new Australian recruits – Liam Foran, Vic Mauro and Connor Higgins – and Martin Gleeson are all unavailable.
Salford don’t boast the greatest record against Wigan, and it will surely be a case of damage limitation for them in their Super League opener, as they look to capture the imagination of the fans, some left disillusioned by the events of the past 12 months.
As for Wigan, it’s the first chance to have a look at their new half-back pairing of Blake Green and Matty Smith, who have the unenviable task of filling the boots of Brett Finch and Thomas Leuluai, who led the Warriors to Super League glory in 2010.
Expect yet more players off the Wigan production line to make their mark this season, and the Warriors will be looking to get off to an assuring start, particularly after the Gareth Hock episode of a fortnight ago.
Salford 19-man squad: Broughton, Gibson, D Williams, Fages, Jewitt, Godwin, McPherson, Ashurst, Wild, Gledhill, Boyle, James, Owen, Nero, Neal, R Williams, McGoldrick, Dixon, Murphy.
Wigan 18-man squad: Burke, Charnley, Dudson, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hughes, McIlorum, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Powell, Prescott, Richards, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, S Tomkins.
Prediction: Salford will be just happy to be on the pitch after their pre-season – Wigan win.
Wigan have won their last 13 matches (six away from home) against Salford, including a win in the Quarter Finals of the Challenge Cup in 2009.
Salford’s last win against Wigan was 16-4, in Round Five of the Challenge Cup, at The Willows on 19 May, 2006. The City Reds’ last Super League win against the Warriors was 28-10 at The Willows on 3 March, 2006.
Wigan’s Sam Tomkins has scored tries in the Warriors’ last three games against Salford as follows: 4-2-1.
Super League summary:
Salford won 4
Wigan won 27
Salford highest score: 31-30 (H, 2001) (Widest margin: 28-10, H, 2006)
Wigan highest score: 70-4 (H, 2001) (also widest margin)