Squad watch: All of the Super League play-off semi-final team news, including TV coverage, predictions

Ben Olawumi
Squad watch graphic Super League

It’s the second week of the 2023 Super League play-offs, with both semi-finals televised across Sky Sports and Channel 4. The winners of the two games will progress into next Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Catalans Dragons v St Helens (Friday, 8pm, Sky Showcase & Sky Sports Mix)

James Roby & Sam Tomkins
James Roby & Sam Tomkins have won nine Grand Finals between them – Alamy

The first last-four clash brings a rematch of the 2021 Grand Final as Saints – who finished outside the top two for the first time since 2017 – head to Perpignan to take on Catalans Dragons. Steve McNamara’s Dragons have won both of the pair’s previous meetings this year.

Saints boss Paul Wellens heaped praise on retiring pair James Roby & Sam Tomkins ahead of the clash. Only one of those two icons will extend their careers by a week and get to Old Trafford, the other will see the curtain come down for good tonight.

Having had a week off courtesy of their 2nd-place finish, Catalans make just one change to the squad from their last outing at Salford Red Devils as Siua Taukeiaho replaces Fouad Yaha.

Matt Whitley will depart the Dragons at the end of the year, and tonight will attempt to stop the club he’s expected to join reaching Old Trafford.

Saints meanwhile had to overcome Warrington Wolves last week to set up their trip to the South of France, and suffered a big casualty in that game as Joe Batchelor limped off six minutes in with a hamstring injury.

He drops out of the 21 along with Dan Norman, while forwards Matthew Foster and George Delaney both come into the Red Vee’s pack at a sold out Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Catalans: Mourgue, Davies, Keighran, May, Pearce, McMeeken, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, Seguier, Garcia, Da Costa, Navarrete, Chan, Romano, Ikuvalu, Taukeiaho, Dezaria, Johnstone, Ma’u, Tomkins

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Hopoate, Percival, Bennison, Lomax, Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sironen, Bell, Davies, Royle, Hurrell, Foster, Delaney, Mbye

Prediction: Catalans may have pipped Saints to 2nd on points difference, but with the way tonight’s visitors ended the regular season, we’re backing them to reach a fifth consecutive Grand Final and pull off a bit of a shock in France. They weren’t at their best, but got the job done last week against Warrington, and we think they’ll come out on top in a scrappy contest. Saints by 4.

Wigan Warriors v Hull KR (Saturday, 12.45pm, Sky Showcase, Sky Sports Arena & Channel 4)

Bevan French ahead of the Super League Round 21 clash with Hull KR.
Bevan French ahead of the Super League Round 21 clash with Hull KR at the DW Stadium. Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images.

If there’s no real clear favourite in the first semi-final tie, there is in this one. League Leaders’ Shield winners Wigan are the hot tip from many in the game to go on and win the competition this year for the first time since 2018.

To set up an Old Trafford showdown with either Catalans or Saints however, they must overcome a Hull KR side who have already beaten them twice this year, and taken them all the way into golden point in another. The Warriors hammered the Robins 64-6 more recently, though that was with a much-changed young squad named by Willie Peters ahead of the Challenge Cup final.

Matt Peet – after a week off – makes one change to his squad from their last regular season game at Leigh Leopards with veteran Willie Isa back fit for the first time since July. Replacing Iain Thornley in the 21, he’ll play his 200th game for the club if selected tomorrow.

Bevan French, Kaide Ellis and Harvie Hill will all also be available for selection having served their one-match suspensions in last weekend’s Reserve Grand Final, which the Warriors won against St Helens.

Visitors KR have now won five in a row after last Friday night’s triumph against Leigh, and where their squad is concerned, it’s one in, one out.

Dean Hadley missed out against the Leopards with a minor calf injury, but now returns and replaces Sauaso Sue with the former Samoa international now on the treatment table.

Wigan: Field, French, King, Wardle, Marshall, Cust, Smith, Powell, Isa, Farrell, Smithies, Ellis, Pearce-Paul, Shorrocks, Mago, O’Neill, Miski, Hill, Nsemba, Hampshire, Dupree

Hull KR: Ryan, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Abdull, Parcell, King, Linnett, Minchella, Litten, Kennedy, Batchelor, Storton, Keinhorst, Lewis, Hadley, Senior, Luckley, Aydin, Walker, Schneider

Prediction: KR have impressed since their Challenge Cup final heartbreak, and are more than capable of pulling off a surprise here, but we’re sticking with the favourites in Wigan who have looked rampant over the last couple of months. They’re a club making all the right noise on and off the pitch at the minute, and we expect them to at least reach the Grand Final if not win it. The Warriors by 10 tomorrow, for us.

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