Higham confident of Wolves riposte
Warrington Wolves hooker Mick Higham reckons Leeds Rhinos will have been "rubbing their hands" watching the Grand Final runners-up suffer a humiliating defeat in their opening match of the season but warns they will be ready to bounce back at Headingley on Friday.
While the Rhinos made an impressive start to the first Utility Super League season with a 34-6 win at Hull KR, the Wolves were strangely out of sorts in their 38-8 loss to St Helens, their worst home defeat for almost seven years, and Higham admits going through the video made for some painful viewing.
"To put in a performance like that, in our first game, a home game, in front of a big crowd, was disappointing to say the least," Higham said.
"It was a long weekend to lick our wounds, with it being a Thursday game. It doesn't make it any easier when you are waiting for video on Monday morning. It wasn't pretty watching.
"Leeds had a great start to the season and will be full of confidence. When they looked at our performance, they will probably have been rubbing their hands.
"We've had a few home truths and worked on some things this week. I just think in games like that it's about your attitude and I don't think our attitude was quite right. We got out-muscled, out-kicked and that's not like us.
"But we're pretty quick learners and, all being well, we'll bounce back and put a good performance in."
Friday's match is a repeat of the 2012 Grand Final won by Leeds, whose coach Brian McDermott expects Warrington to be a force once more despite losing a host of experienced players in the close season.
"They are still a fantastic team," McDermott said. "They still carry a huge amount of threat across the field and they are still good enough to push for honours. I'm banking on them being a good team this week."
McDermott is set to bring in the versatile Stevie Ward in place of Liam Sutcliffe while Warrington coach Tony Smith will give debuts to winger Gene Ormsby and former Featherstone prop Anthony England and welcome back from injury back-row forward Simon Grix.
The 21-year-old Ormsby, who takes over from the axed Chris Riley, will be in at the deep end as he goes up against England winger Tom Briscoe, who marked his Leeds debut with a hat-trick of tries last Sunday.
"Gene's a handful himself," said Smith. "He's a big lad and hopefully he will prove a bit of a test for Tom as well.
"Tom doesn't just test his opposite number; he tests everybody in the team when he carries the ball back. There is no doubt he needs to be one of those players that needs special attention but that won't be just down to Gene."
St Helens will be looking to pick up from where they left off at Warrington when they host Hull FC at Langtree Park.
Hull clung on for a nail-biting 36-34 win over Catalan Dragons to give new coach Lee Radford a winning start and Saints boss Nathan Brown is expecting them to present a stern challenge for his team.
"They have big men who can carry the ball well and for us to do well we need to be physically good like we were last week," Brown said.
"Hull had good periods when they clicked and we'd expect them to have more of those. Most sides aren't going to be perfect but will improve going forward."
Both teams are likely to be unchanged for a match that will count as the first leg of the Steve Prescott Cup, in memory of the former England and Ireland full-back who played with distinction for both clubs and lost his battle with cancer in November.
"Steve did a lot for the town and rugby league and inspired people too," Brown said. "He gave hope to people in bad situations and what he raised under the circumstances and achieved was amazing. It will be a special night."