18 Nov 2020

Semi-final preview: Warriors v Hull FC

Thursday 19 November

Wigan Warriors v Hull FC (19.45) - Sky Sports Main Event & Mix

The Betfred Super League Play-off semi-final’s kick off on Thursday Night when Wigan Warriors take on Hull FC. Warriors are back in action for the first time since they secured the League Leaders’ Shield against Giants two weeks ago, returning to DW Stadium for the first time since March. 

Head coach Adrian Lam was in positive spirits heading into Thursday's game, as he aims to reach his first Grand Final as Warriors coach. 

Discussing his sides preparations following a week off, and the mood around the camp, Lam was happy with how his side had reacted in the build up to the game. 

He said: “We’re very excited. It wasn’t a week off for us.

“It was a week where we worked harder than we normally would have, just in shorter times.

“It was an opportunity to reset. And an opportunity to make sure everyone is on board with what we’re trying to achieve at this stage of the season.”

This will be the second semi-final appearance the Warriors have made this year after missing out on a Challenge Cup final in October, suffering defeat against Rhinos. As disappointing loss that turned out to be, Lam views the game as a defining point in the Warriors season.

“That was certainly a low time for us,” he explained.

“From that moment on we’ve certainly turned a corner as a team, a club and a coach.”

He continued: “I learnt a lot of lessons that day and so did the players. We haven’t forgot about that. It certainly motivates us now to be better than what we were in that situation.

“We’ve gone full circle and really looking forward to the challenge and to see how much we’ve changed as a team.”

Should that not be enough to spark a performance from Lam’s men on Thursday, club captain and Warriors legend Sean O’loughlin last week announced his retirement at the end of the year, calling time on an illustrious 19-year playing career at the club.

Warriors halfback Jackson Hastings led the tributes to club captain O’loughlin, recognising the incredible impact he has had on the club throughout his career. 

He said: “He’s been a leader from a young age. He’s been great not only for me but the young kids coming through. He’s got that voice that everyone respects.

“As a club, we owe it to him to get to a Grand Final and send him out a winner.”

O’loughlin could return for Warriors against Hull FC on Thursday Night. He’s been included in Adrian Lams 21-man squad along with Amir Bouroughs in the only two changes made from the team that lifted the League Leaders’ Shield two weeks ago.

Sixth place Hull FC will be hoping their fairy tale ending to the 2020 season continues against Warriors on Thursday. The black and whites narrowly made the Play-offs this year and have not looked back since.

Andy Last’s men produced their best performance of the year by knocking out third place Wolves last Thursday and are now just 80 minutes away from a Betfred Super League Grand Final at their home ground.

Despite the magnitude of the upcoming semi-final, the emphasis has been on continuity from last week’s preparations and focusing on the current task in hand, ensuring the players give themselves every opportunity to progress to next weeks Final.

He outlined: “It was important we kept some consistency and familiarity with how we went about our preparation.  

“There was a clear lift in intensity going into the Warrington game and that's the case going into this Wigan game,” He continued.

“We don’t have to play too much on the emotional side, the guys know how important the game is.

“We’re 80 minutes away from a Grand Final and will need to be at our very best against Wigan to get a result."

Last was part of the coaching staff for Hull FC during their previous appearance in a Grand Final back in 2006, passing messages from the coaching team to the players during their defeat to St Helens.

Speaking about the match, Last remembers the game well.

He explained: “It was the first time I was asked to run the messages. It was a special game against a talented St Helens team.

“14 years is too long between drinks, so to speak. We’ll be giving everything we can to be the second team to represent Hull FC at a Grand Final.”

And in the week that Hull FC club legend Jonny Whiteley will celebrate his 90th birthday, the black and whites will be hoping to create a new piece of history when they travel to the DW Stadium on Thursday Night.

Hull FC are expected to line up with the same 1-17 that beat Wolves in last week’s Play-off tie. Jack Brown’s inclusion replacing Josh Jones is the only change to Andy Last’s 21-man squad. 

Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Chris Hankinson, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Bevan French, Tommy Leuluai, Tony Clubb, George Burgess, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin, Ben Flower, Morgan Smithies, Oliver Partington, Joe Bullock, Liam Byrne, Jake Bibby, Harry Smith, Jackson Hasting, Amir Bourouh, Brad Singleton.

Hull FC: Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Jake Connor, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Joe Cator, Jordan Johnstone, Brad Fash, Jordan Lane, Josh Bowden, Andre Savelio, Mahe Fonua, Jack Brown, Cameron Scott, Ratu Naulago, Ben McNamara.

Referee: Chris Kendall