If there’s one team that will do better than last season, it will be Wigan. After last year’s unbelievable brush with relegation, which seemed to simmer upon the arrival of a certain pair from Odsal, the Warriors will surely be one of the top candidates to challenge Saints’ supremacy.
The foundations for 2007 were built in the second half of the 2006 season with the arrival of Brian Noble as head coach and Stuart Fielden as head boy. Together with the contract agreements with Trent Barrett and Phil Bailey, the main man and the top 3 players were all signed up before the anti-tamper deadline.
Noble’s had the winter to build his own team and that he has done. In come seasoned pros Michael Withers, from Bradford and former Leeds hooker Shane Millard, and Harlequins and New Zealand scrum half Thomas Leuluai. Although the Warriors have lost Michael Dobson and Danny Orr, their replacement half backs, Barrett and Leuluai, are sure to be a match for any Super League side, if they can hit it off together.
The Warriors have a front row to fear, with the prop partnership of Fielden and Palea’aesina the most devastating in Super League. Sean O’Loughlin and Gareth Hock did themselves no harm in last season’s Tri Nations, and they like many, will be wanting to put last season behind them.
The Warriors have quality oozing through their side. They are a bit stronger squadwise than last season, when they had a top quality starting 13, but behind that, not much strength in depth. That seems to have changed this season, and under the leadership of the most successful coach in Super League history, Brian Noble, the Warriors will be challenging for honours once more this season.
2nd – just not enough to beat Saints.