13th September 2018, 16:14 | StHelens
The shield was taken to the Totally Wicked Stadium a fortnight ago ready to be presented but it had to be packed away when Wigan Warriors ruined the party and condemned their arch rivals to a second successive home defeat, which threatened to undermine their impressive work in the first two-thirds of the season.
A last-gasp victory over Catalans Dragons in Perpignan last Saturday got Holbrook’s men back on track and a point against struggling Hull FC on Thursday will finally secure the silverware with two games to spare.
Hull are in freefall after losing their last eight matches, although coach Lee Radford is set to enjoy some relief from his side’s injury crisis with the return of England utility back Jake Connor.
“Hull still have dangerous players but have had three of their best players out for a long time so they are doing it tough,” Holbrook said.
“I feel for Radders in that respect but we will worry about how we are going this week. They will come here looking to turn their season around.”
Holbrook is set to give a debut to former Bradford forward James Bentley while hooker Aaron Smith will make his home debut in the continuing absence of James Roby.
Winger Dom Manfredi is set to end a two-year injury lay-off when Wigan host Warrington Wolves in a match that brings together the second and fourth-placed clubs in the fifth round of the Beftred Super League Super 8s.
Manfredi was on the verge of an England call-up when his career was put on hold by a series of knee problems but he has gradually worked his way back to full fitness and will get his chance after narrowly missing out against Wakefield Trinity last week.
“Dom Manfredi is fit to go,” Warriors coach Shaun Wane said. “It was a tough call last week but I had to do what was right in my heart and it worked. He’s got his chance this weekend.”
Manfredi will line up in the threequarters alongside Dan Sarginson for what promises to be another emotional night at the DW Stadium.
Sarginson played in Wigan’s win over Wakefield less than a week after the death of his brother and will make his 100th appearance for the club against the Wolves.
“We’ve got another reason to make sure we get the win,” Wane said. “Mentally it’s been very, very tough.
“But for him to turn up and play the way he did last week speaks volumes about him.”
Wigan will be without skipper Sean O’Loughlin for their fifth meeting of the year against Warrington, who are set to give a debut to back rower Luis Johnson, a £45,000 buy from Castleford last winter.
In Friday’s other game, Wakefield host a Catalans Dragons team hoping to avoid a third successive league defeat since winning the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final at Wembley.