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Former Warrington Wolves teammates Ben Westwood and Louis Anderson in duel of the season
LOUIS Anderson’s first return to Warrington provides promise for the duel of the season tomorrow night, Friday.
The Kiwi back rower left Wolves with two Challenge Cup winner’s medals in his pocket at the end of 2011, seeking new experiences and a new culture in the south of France with Catalan Dragons.
A new culture will present when he and former pack partner Ben Westwood rip into each other roared on by an expectant and noisy South Stand crowd in round three of Super League.
With Anderson operating on Catalan’s left and Westwood on Warrington’s right, they will be in each other’s faces like rabid dogs in what is Warrington’s second physical confrontation with title rivals in the space of a week.
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “It should be a really exciting battle.
“Bennie’s in great form and Louis likes to play it rough and tough as well.
“The fans are right behind ‘Super Bennie Westwood’ and there’ll be a lot of good match-ups across the field because Catalan have some highly talented players, and so do we.
“Once the whistle blows I know where Louis’ loyalty will lie and the same for my players, but there is utmost respect for him here as a player and a man.
“It’ll be nice for him to get a good reception and hopefully he has a safe and healthy game.”
Both internationals are highly influential with their ball-carrying skill as much as with their monster hits in defence. Neither shirk anything.
And that sets the scene for what will be a formidable pack confrontation to match the three meetings of last year, when Anderson missed his side’s 15-6 Halliwell Jones Stadium defeat through injury.
It was physical for Wolves against Wigan on Friday, too, with players visibly out on their feet at the sound of the final hooter.
Smith said: “That’s one of the challenges, we’ve got a really tough start against a lot of physical teams.
“Fortunately this week we’ve had a longer turnaround between games and longer to overcome bumps and bruises. Players can have aches and pains for an extra couple of days at this stage of the season but they’re feeling pretty good.
“I thought Friday’s game was a credit to the conditioning of both sides for this time of year.
“I’m sure we’re going to get stronger and a bit fitter as we go on as we’re trying to do that as the season progresses.”
Ben Harrison’s brute strength and force will be missing from Wolves’ ranks for between four to six weeks after a successful hernia operation on Tuesday.
So Smith’s only change to Wolves’ 19-man squad is Tyrone McCarthy replacing Ben Currie.
The game will mark Micky Higham’s 100th game for Wolves, while Chris Riley is two away from his 150th and Paul Wood two away from his 300th.
Wolves 19: Ryan Atkins, Lee Briers, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Brett Hodgson, Tyrone McCarthy, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Paul Wood.