Play-off preview | Warriors v Rhinos
Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos go head-to-head in the first Play-off eliminator on Thursday Night live on Sky Sports Arena!
Liam Marshall returns to the Warriors 21-man squad ahead of Thursday’s Play-off eliminator. Forwards Brad Singleton and Morgan Smithies are also included after sitting out last weeks win against Catalans and John Bateman is expected to feature after he was rested.
Joe Bullock misses out for Wigan this week – he picked up a shoulder injury in Round 25.
The Rhinos welcome four players back into their squad for this week’s trip to the DW Stadium. Zane Tetevano returns for Leeds after completing his three-match suspension picked up against Thursday’s opponents Wigan back in Round 21.
Mikolaj Oledzki, Alex Mellor and King Vuniyayawa are also included following their respective injury layoffs, in what is a huge boost for Richard Agar’s side ahead of Thursday’s crunch tie.
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Oliver Partington, Morgan Smithies, Tony Clubb, Liam Byrne, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Jake Bibby, Mitch Clark, Joe Shorrocks, Kai Pearce-Paul, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell, Jackson Hastings.
Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Harry Newman, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Rob Lui, Mikolaj Oledzki, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Richie Myler, Cameron Smith, Tom Holroyd, King Vuniyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jack Broadbent, Morgan Gannon.
Last 10 meetings
Warriors 0 - 14 Rhinos (SLR21, 25/8/21)
Rhinos 6 - 19 Warriors (SLR3, 15/4/21)
Rhinos 26 - 12 Warriors (CCSF, 3/10/20)
(at Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens)
Warriors 28 - 10 Rhinos (SLR9, 16/8/20)
(at Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens)
Rhinos 14 - 23 Warriors (SLR18, 14/6/19)
Warriors 34 - 16 Rhinos (SLR2, 8/2/19)
Warriors 46 - 8 Rhinos (SLR19, 28/6/18)
Rhinos 8 - 9 Warriors (SLR11, 13/4/18)
Rhinos 32 - 16 Warriors (SLS8-R1, 4/8/17)
Warriors 34 - 0 Rhinos (SLR23, 21/7/17)
Super League summary
Warriors have won 43 (includes win in 1998 Grand Final and wins in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2010 & 2013 Play-offs)
Rhinos have won 30 (includes win in 2015 Grand Final and wins in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010 & 2012 Play-offs)
Ones to watch
Hastings is the key for Wigan on Thursday Night. When the Warriors are playing well he is usually involved. The former Man of Steel carries a huge amount of responsibility on his shoulders every week, ensuring he is at the epicentre of the action.
He has more try assists – both from the boot and his hands – than any other Warriors player. In fact, he’s the third highest metre maker (2534) and second highest ball carrier (351) in the Wigan team. He also averages 75 attacking touches a game and is second only, unsurprisingly, to Sam Powell in the Warriors side. The Rhinos will be all too wary of his influence heading into Thursday's clash as they look to nullifying the talented half-backs threat.
The Rhinos welcome back some big bodies into their squad against Wigan. The likes of Mik Oledzki and Zane Tetevano join the experienced Matt Prior in the Leeds pack ahead of this week's Play-off eliminator. And, if the Warriors are to take the spoils on Thursday Night, they will need to shut down the Rhinos middle men. Step up, Oliver Partington.
Despite his age, Partington is quickly becoming a leader in the Warriors pack. He certainly packs a punch and can mix it with the very best in Betfred Super League. Now, he'll be tasked with taking on the Rhinos forwards and ensuring his Wigan team dominate the arm wrestle down the middle. He's no stranger to these high pressure contests having fought his way to last year's Grand Final. An invaluable experience for the Warriors academy product and one that will have made him even more hungry for success.
Leeming has more try involvements than any other Rhinos player in 2021. He has contributed to over a quarter of his teams tries so far this season, which includes involvements in 10 of the Rhinos last 11 matches. His form has steadily improved throughout the season and Leeming heads into the Play-off's this week in arguably career best form.
He finished the regular season with 3 try assists against fellow Play-off contenders Hull KR and caused all sorts of problems from dummy half. With some key middle men set to return for the Rhinos, Leeming's role will be crucial. He is the man tasked with guiding his forwards around the park and steering Leeds to victory.
And Leeming has proved that he can be the Rhinos talisman in high pressure moments - he kicked the decisive drop-goal during a golden point thriller against Hull FC at Dacia Magic Weekend. Expect another accomplished and mature performance from the hooker on Thursday Night.
Leeming 🎯 @leedsrhinos win a thriller 🤯#MagicWeekend #SuperLeague #SLLeeHul pic.twitter.com/3TVrozKjhP
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) September 4, 2021
The enforcer of the Rhinos pack, Tetevano has had a disrupted first season at Leeds. Suspensions, along with a prolonged period out of action due to Covid-19, has prevented the former Kiwi international from enjoying a consistent run of games. Never the less, he returns on Friday and will be keen to make an immediate impact.
Tetevano regularly pushes the boundaries with his aggressive style of play. Most recently, he received yellow cards in two consecutive games - the second resulting in his last suspension. However, that's what makes Tetevano the player he is. And it's something he will undoubtedly bring to the fore on Thursday Night. The Rhinos will look to get quickly out the blocks and unsettle the Warriors early on - expect Tetevano to be the key instigator to that.
All roads lead to the Grand Final... Be there at Old Trafford on October 9 and watch Champions be crowned. Who will you be backing? Get your tickets here.