Our great rivals and current Super League champions Wigan are in town this week and while they appear to be going through the horrors at the moment with only one win in five matches their disappointments will only to serve to make them even more determined to make sure the derby game will be of its usual intensity.
The cherry and whites had an inauspicious start to this season before playing a match, having had two points deducted for a salary cap offence though this has now been suspended until 2020 on appeal.
They have suffered league defeats at home against Hull and last week to the Giants and also at St Helens and in London. They also lost to the Sydney Roosters in the World Club Championship.
Their their only victory to date was at home against Leeds and they are down in 10th place in the table.
Former player Adrian Lam is the interim coach at Wigan following the departure of Shaun Wane to Scottish rugby union and pending the planned arrival of former player Shaun Edwards next season.
New in cherry and white this season are former Castleford full-back Zak Hardaker who is hoping to fulfil his undoubted potential after a spell out of the game, Jarrod Sammut who joined the club from London Broncos after playing a special role in their gaining promotion to Super League, and ex-Barrow forward Joe Bullock who has made a remarkably successful start to his career in the top flight.
Gone are John Bateman and Ryan Sutton to Canberra Raiders and Sam Tomkins who has joined former team-mates Michael McILorum, Matty Smith and Lewis Tierney at Catalans Dragons.
Joe Bretherton has also moved to France, joining Toulouse Olympique while Declan O’Donnell and Jack Higginson have been transferred to Leigh Centurions and Lewis Heckford has gone to to Dewsbury. Loaned out are Josh Woods at Leigh Centurions, and Caine Barnes at Workington Town.
For this game there are doubts about two wingers. Liam Marshall hobbled from the pitch last Friday and Dom Manfredi lost two teeth and suffered concussion. Manfredi had only just got into the side because of a previous injury.
Tom Davies will be available to replace him and Joe Burgess will be assessed as to his recovery from the knee injury he sustained 11 months ago.
We will be full of confidence having dislodged Castleford from top spot in the table with that polished 24-10 victory at the Halliwell Jones last Thursday with Jake Mamo making the most of his appearance on the wing by scoring two tries.
Co-captain Jack Hughes, who also scored a try in that game after a serving a superb dummy and twisting over the line, will be playing against many of his former team-mates, as will Josh Charnley.
Ben Currie returned to the side last week following his two ACL injuries and played as if he had never been away.
Our last meeting with Wigan, if anyone needs reminding, was the Grand Final at Old Trafford, the Warriors winning 12-4 in front of almost 65,000 spectators – but we did defeat them decisively 23-0 in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup competition.
Wigan won the Magic Weekend fixture in Newcastle. In the league matches we won 16-10 at home but lost 13-12 at the JD Stadium.
Coaches Cecil Mountford, Ernie Ashcroft, Jack Fleming and John Dorahy joined us from Wigan and Joe Egan also took charge of our team after moving to Leigh.
Also from Wigan came winger Terry O’Grady, centre Keith Holden Junior, hookers Micky Higham and Martin Dermott, our business development manager Richie Mathers and, most recently, Jack Hughes.
Rob Smyth and Jon Clarke came to Wilderspool from Wigan via London, Nat Silcock Jnr via St Helens and Roy Francis via Barrow.
The late Laurie Gilfedder, Neil Courtney, Ian Potter, Billy McGinty, Keith Holden Senior, Phil Ford, Dave Myers and Andy Gregory were among those who went the other way. Alex Murphy and Mike Gregory would also coach Wigan.