Warriors missing Charnley for opener
Wigan Warriors will launch their title defence without England winger Josh Charnley when they meet Huddersfield Giants in the opening match of the First Utility Super League season at the DW Stadium on Friday.
Charnley has failed to recover from a hernia operation but is expected to be fit in time for the Warriors' World Club Challenge clash with Sydney Roosters in Sydney on February 22 and could even play in the warm-up game against New Zealand Warriors in Hamilton next Wednesday.
"It is disappointing to miss the start of the season," said Charnley, who was Super League's top tryscorer in 2013 with 34 touchdowns. "I should be okay for the New Zealand game.
"It's been a few weeks without having the ball in my hands. It might be tough for me to get back in the way the wingers have been playing. There is plenty of competition and everyone is fighting for a spot."
Joe Burgess, 19, who scored two tries against St Helens in the James Roby testimonial match last Friday, is once more set to deputise, although coach Shaun Wane has also included Anthony Gelling in his 19-man squad.
"Joe put his hand up," Wane said. "He's definitely a good player, I rate him very highly.
"He still made a couple of technical errors which he needs to get out of his game but that's his age. I rate him very highly; he's one for the future."
Hooker Michael McIlorum is set to play after missing last Friday's warm-up game with a hamstring injury sustained in training and Wane is set to give debuts to all five major close-season signings - Matty Bowen, Dan Sarginson, Tony Clubb, Eddy Pettybourne and John Bateman.
Huddersfield, who finished top of the table in 2013, have included new signings Antonio Kaufusi, Chris Bailey and Jodie Broughton in Paul Anderson's 19-man squad, which does not include second rower Jason Chan, who picked up a knock in training.
The round one fixture has been brought forward by a week to enable the champions to fly down under to prepare for their clash with the Roosters.