24th May 2019, 12:21 | Warrington

Austin hopes to maintain perfect record against Wigan at Anfield

Austin hopes to maintain perfect record against Wigan at Anfield

Warrington Wolves playmaker Blake Austin is hoping to maintain his 100 per cent record against Wigan Warriors but is bracing himself for a tough challenge at the 13th Dacia Magic Weekend.

The Betfred Super League giants are no strangers to meeting on the big occasion and their ninth clash in 18 months has been chosen to bring down the curtain on day one at Anfield.

The arch rivals played each other six times in 2018, including once at the Magic Weekend and in the Grand Final where the Warriors were victorious on both occasions, but the Wolves have won both meeting so far this year.

Austin’s contributions were pivotal in those games as he continues to set the pace in the Steve Prescott Man of Steel votes in his first season in Super League.

He said: “The one thing I’ve learned is that form goes out of the window. Wigan are always up for a match against Warrington and we’re always up for a match against Wigan.

“We get to do it at a slightly bigger stadium this week and I can’t wait.”

Wigan have the best Magic Weekend record in Super League, with eight wins and two draws from their 12 matches, and have not lost since going down to St Helens in 2008.

The reigning champions are currently 10 points behind the Wolves in eighth place but Steve Price’s men have faltered recently, losing three of their last six matches.

Six points behind Saints, Austin acknowledges it will be difficult for his side to overhaul their nearest neighbours but says they will be confident of winning a maiden Super League title from anywhere in the top four.

“We’re at the point of the season now where we’re quite comfortable with where we’re sitting on the ladder,” Austin said. “It’s more important that we look at performances rather than a win/loss.

“If we manage to catch Saints, that would be great but we’re confident that from second, third or fourth, if we get ourselves to the finals playing a nice brand of footy we can do really well.”

Warrington have suffered a blow with the loss of full-back Stefan Ratchford with a torn pectoral muscle while hooker Sam Powell and winger Liam Marshall joined Wigan’s lengthy injury list in the heavy defeat by Catalans Dragons in Barcelona.

“It’s a massive game and we know whoever we pick will stand up and do the job,” said Wigan coach Adrian Lam.

“It’s a week where it’s backs against the wall but we need to respond as a group, whoever pulls the jersey on.”

Elsewhere on the opening day, Wakefield Trinity will give a debut to new signing Kelepi Tanginoa against the Catalans, who are still without Sam Tomkins but are boosted by the return of scrum-half Matty Smith.

Wakefield’s veteran forward Danny Kirmond is set to make his 200th Super League appearance in the opening game, while team-mate Ryan Hampshire will bring up his century.

Hull FC prop Josh Bowden is set to make his first appearance for 12 months in the second game against Huddersfield Giants.

Bowden suffered an ACL injury in the Coral Challenge Cup against Featherstone last May but made his comeback for Hull’s reserves a fortnight ago and has been named in coach Lee Radford’s squad.