Squad watch: Super League Round 26 team news, including TV coverage, predictions

Drew Darbyshire
Squad watch graphic Super League

It’s the penultimate round of the regular Super League season this weekend, with three games being shown on Sky Sports, including two on Saturday.

Leigh Leopards v Wakefield Trinity (Friday, 8pm)

Josh Charnley Leigh Leopards Alamy Josh Charnley in action for Leigh Leopards

The Leopards could welcome back key duo John Asiata and Josh Charnley on Friday after they missed last week’s defeat at St Helens with niggling injuries.

However, they will be without centre Zak Hardaker (hand), with the former Man of Steel winner not named in Adrian Lam’s squad to face Wakefield.

Wakefield coach Mark Applegarth has made three changes to his side that lost to Catalans last time out. Josh Bowden, Hugbo Salabio and Dane Windrow come in for David Fifita, Renouf Atoni and Sam Eseh.

Leigh: Briscoe, Chamberlain, Charnley, Mellor, Lam, Amone, Ipape, Mulhern, Wardle, Hughes, Asiata, Nakubuwai, Reynolds, Holmes, O’Brien, Davis, Nisbet, O’Donnell, Seumanufagai, Halton, Gildart.

Wakefield: Jowitt, Lineham, Lino, Battye, Hood, Whitbread, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Pitts, Kay, Bowden, Kershaw, Proctor, Bowes, Windrow, Senior, Gale, Croft, Franco, Salabio, Griffin.

Prediction: Wakefield’s survival hopes are hanging by a thread so they’ll be giving it everything but I think Leigh will just be too strong with their eyes on a top four finish. Leopards by 10.

Warrington Wolves v St Helens (Friday, 8pm, Sky Sports Arena)

Curtis Sironen St Helens Alamy St Helens forward Curtis Sironen

Warrington will be without star half-back George Williams due to a minor thigh injury, with youngster Leon Hayes set to take his place.

Wire duo Peter Mata’utia and Gil Dudson also miss out through hamstring injuries.

St Helens will have no George Delaney this week after the in-form prop failed a head injury assessment in last week’s win over Leigh.

The good news for Saints is that they get to welcome back Australian forward Curtis Sironen from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Warrington: Ashton, Clark, Crowther, Currie, Drinkwater, Dufty, Harrison, Hayes, Holroyd, Kasiano, Mikaele, Minikin, Nicholson, Philbin, Ratchford, Russell, Thewlis, Thomas, Vaughan, Walker, Wrench.

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Percival, Bennison, Lomax, Dodd, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Batchelor, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sironen, Bell, Davies, Royle, Baxter, Ritson, Foster, Bruines, Mbye.

Prediction: St Helens have won seven on the bounce and are hitting their straps at the right time, so I’ll tip them by 8.

Wigan Warriors v Castleford Tigers (Friday, 8pm)

Liam Horne Castleford Tigers Alamy Papua New Guinea international Liam Horne in action for Castleford Tigers

There’ll be no Liam Byrne for Wigan on Friday after the in-form prop picked up a hamstring injury in last week’s win at Leeds. The Ireland international is replaced by centre Iain Thornley in Matt Peet’s 21-man squad.

As for Castleford, Danny Ward’s side be without Gareth Widdop, Kenny Edwards, Alex Foster, Jacob Hookem and Billy Tsikrikas this week.

Papua New Guinea international Liam Horne and Jacob Miller both returning after serving their suspensions, whilst Sam Hall and George Lawler are also back after completing their return to play concussion protocol.

Tigers academy product Fletcher Rooney has been introduced into the senior squad for the first time after impressing in the academy and reserves.

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

Castleford: Eden, Turner, Miller, Lawler, Griffin, Mellor, Westerman, Massey, Broadbent, Mustapha, Matagi, Robb, Martin, Wallis, Hall, Qareqare, Watts, Johnstone, Horne, Austin, Rooney.

Prediction: Wigan want to get their hands on the League Leaders’ Shield and have home advantage, so I can only see this going one way. Warriors by 16.

Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants (Saturday, 3pm)

Jake Clifford celebrates his try against St Helens with team-mates. Photo by James Heaton/News Images.
Jake Clifford celebrates his try against St Helens with team-mates. Photo by James Heaton/News Images.

If there was ever a dead-rubber in Super League, this would be it. 10th against 9th in the penultimate game of the season with neither able to make the top six.

Tony Smith’s Hull will bid farewell to their departing players in their final home game, including Jake Clifford who returns to the fold following his one-match ban.

Youngster Lewis Martin is also involved, with the pair replacing Carlos Tuimavave (concussion) and Zach Jebson in the squad. Jake Trueman (Achilles), Ligi Sao (knee), Ben McNamara (hand), and Mitieli Vulikijapani (knee) all remain sidelined.

Huddersfield meanwhile have only been able to name 20 players for their trip across Yorkshire. Adam Milner is back in the squad after injury, but Luke Yates and Jack Ashworth are both suspended.

Hull: Hoy, Swift, Sutcliffe, McIntosh, Clifford, Houghton, Satae, Savelio, Lane, Fash, Lovodua, Cator, Scott, Brown, Litten, Barron, Gardiner, Taylor, Staveley, Dwyer, Martin

Huddersfield: Milner, O’Brien, McQueen, Marsters, Livett, McGillvary, Connor, Bibby, Greenwood, Naiqama, Cudjoe, English, Peats, Wilson, Halsall, Hewitt, Ikahihifo, Lolohea, Fages, Pryce,

Prediction: Solely because they’ve got home advantage, I’ll go Hull by 4. Both of these two will just be waiting for a poor season to end.

Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos (Saturday, 5pm, Sky Sports Arena)

Tyrone May Catalans Dragons Alamy
Tyrone May in action for Catalans Dragons in 2023

With two games remaining, Catalans’ hopes of lifting the League Leaders’ Shield are far from over. They’ll be more concerned with ensuring a spot in the top two though, and given it could come down to points difference, they’ll want to hammer a Leeds side low on confidence with virtually no chance of a top six spot.

Steve McNamara has Tyrone May and Matt Ikuvalu back in the squad ahead of their last regular season home league game, though Arthur Mourgue and Mickael Goudemand drop out and will miss the clash with the Rhinos live in front of the Sky cameras.

Defeat in Perpignan, or even just results elsewhere not going their way, would officially spell the end of any hopes Leeds harbour of a miracle to get into the play-offs. Last year’s Grand Finalists are without Aidan Sezer, James Bentley, Richie Myler, Justin Sangare and Luis Roberts through injury.

Nene Macdonald is also absent, remaining at home in Australia after the birth of his child. Elsewhere, Sam Walters will serve a one-game suspension. He’s the one man to drop out of the squad from last week’s 50-0 home defeat to Wigan, with youngster forward Tom Nicholson-Watton brought in by boss Rohan Smith to replace him.

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

Leeds: Fusitu’a, Newman, Handley, Oledzki, Martin, Smith, O’Connor, Lisone, Olpherts, Holroyd, McDonnell, Gannon, Hooley, Tindall, Donaldson, Johnson, Sinfield, Ruan, Edgell, Lumb, Nicholson-Watton

Prediction: Even with the drop off in their performances over the last few weeks, it’s hard to see past Catalans here on home soil against a Leeds side that simply appears in disarray. The home side by at least 16, for us.

Hull Kingston Rovers v Salford Red Devils (Saturday, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena)

Kallum Watkins Salford Red Devils Alamy
Kallum Watkins has been named in Salford’s 21-man squad this week

In a monumental game for the play-off race in Super League, it’s 5th v 7th – at the time of writing – as the Robins host the Red Devils.

A win would see KR cement their place in the top six, and Willie Peters has made three changes to his squad from the one which beat Huddersfield last time out. Elliot Minchella returns having sat out last week’s victory through a failed HIA, and James Batchelor is back following minor surgery on his elbow.

Elsewhere, Sauaso ‘Jesse’ Sue returns to bring an end to an injury lay-off which has lasted over three months. Jimmy Keinhorst misses out through an ankle injury with Rowan Milnes and Luis Johnson the other two to drop out.

Salford meanwhile have made two changes, heading to Craven Park in the knowledge that a win could take them level on points with the hosts. Kallum Watkins and Oliver Partington are back having served suspensions, but they’ll be without Brad Singleton who himself picked up a one-match ban following last Sunday’s win against Warrington.

The club have failed twice in appeal against that ban, so he will watch on from the sidelines in East Hull alongside Adam Sidlow, the other man to drop out of Paul Rowley’s 20-man squad.

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

Salford: Brierley, Sio, Watkins, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Ormondroyd, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Dixon, Stone, Partington, Atkin, Addy, Bourouh, Costello, Hellewell, Greenwood, Cross

Prediction: We feel this has the makings of a fantastic advert for the game, and it’s great it’s on prime time Saturday night. It’ll be very tight, so we’re going KR by 1. Of course, we’ll go with Brad Schneider to drop the goal that wins it for the Robins.

READ NEXT: Top try, goal and points scorers in Super League, Championship and League 1