Last year’s runners-up Wigan Warriors travel to Widnes Vikings in the opening fixture of the 2015 First Utility Super League.
Wigan will be looking to start off well to banish last season’s heartache, which saw them defeated in the Grand Final at Old Trafford by Lancashire rivals St Helens.
Coach Shaun Wane has named new signings Larne Patrick (on-loan for Huddersfield) and Taulima Tautai (from Wakefield) in his 19-man squad. Prop Lee Mossop has returned to the club and is likely to start in place of the suspended Ben Flower, who was sent-off for his punch on Lance Hohaia in the Grand Final.
Last season Josh Charnley was top try scorer for the Warriors with 21 tries, while Matty Smith kicked 107 goals, which made them the top points scorers for Wigan and two to watch this season.
Away from points scoring, full-back Matty Bowen made a solid transition from NRL to Super League. He is a diminutive figure, but a player who is strong, powerful and agile, when collecting the ball from deep inside his own defensive territory.
Widnes Warriors finished in 8th last season but lost to Warrington Wolves in the Qualifying/Elimination play-off.
This season they will be hoping to reach the Super 8s at least, which seems a pretty reasonable aim after last season.
Coach Denis Betts has added four players to his squad for this season. Players joining the Vikings include former Wigan player Gil Dudson, Aaron Heremaia (from Hull), Chris Clarkson (on-loan from Leeds) and Manase Manuokafoa (from Bradford.)
Of the four new signings only Dudson misses out here on playing against his former employees.
30-year-old captain Kevin Brown will lead the team from his stand-off position while Danny Tickle is the one to watch in terms of points scoring for the Vikings.
Eamon O’Carroll missed large arts of last season through injury. He goes into his third season at the Select Security Stadium and will look to add power into the front row when carrying the ball and challenging.
Widnes Vikings: 19 Man Squad
Patrick Ah Van, Kevin Brown, Hep Cahill, Liam Carberry, Chris Clarkson, Danny Craven, Chris Dean, Alex Gerrard, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Dec Hulme, Willie Isa, Ben Kavanagh, Manase Manuokafoa, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Eamon O’Carroll, Cameron Phelps, Danny Tickle.
Wigan Warriors: 19 Man Squad
John Bateman, Matt Bowen, Joe Burgess, Josh Charnley, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Connor Farrell, Anthony Gelling, Michael McIlorum, Sean O’Loughlin, Larne Patrick, Sam Powell, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Joel Tomkins, Logan Tomkins, George Williams