Rugby League - Goulding wary of bookies' odds

Former champions Wigan and Leeds will battle it out for the dubious prize of a trip to Grand Final favourites Warrington in the first round of the Super League play-offs.

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Rugby League - Goulding wary of bookies' odds

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Darrell Goulding says Wigan are just focusing on finishing as strongly as possible

The losers of the round 27 clash at the DW Stadium will finish the Super League season in fourth place and go to table-toppers Huddersfield in the first qualifying play-off next Thursday.

That, according to the bookmakers who make Huddersfield 7-2 third favourites to win at Old Trafford, ought to be the preferred option but Wigan centre Darrell Goulding says his team's only consideration will be ending the regular season on a high.

"We've heard the conspiracy theory but Huddersfield have been the best team this year and they've proved that by winning the league," Goulding said.

"They've played consistently and they've got a lot of good systems in place

"It's up to us to go out and win this game against Leeds and we'll play whoever we have to."

Finishing in the top two is no guarantee of success, as Leeds have proved by winning the Grand Final from fifth spot in each of the last two years, and Goulding is expecting the Rhinos to be once more pushing for a spot at Old Trafford.

"Leeds rise to the challenge coming up to play-off time," he said. "They're the team to beat usually in the play-offs and it will probably be the same again."

After being decimated by injuries in mid-season, Leeds are close to full strength, with Danny McGuire and Mitch Achurch returning against Catalan Dragons a week ago and Brett Delaney and Jamie Jones-Buchanan back to face Wigan.

Wigan are missing only skipper Sean O'Loughlin, who is unlikely to play again for his club this year after tearing his Achilles, and prop Gil Dudson, with Goulding one of 10 members of the victorious Challenge Cup team returning to action.

While most of them were rested for last week's league re-match with Hull, Goulding was forced to sit it out after being concussed during the 16-0 win over Hull at Wembley and failing the mandatory "head test".

Goulding was carried from the field 25 minutes from the end after an attempted tackle on Hull centre Kirk Yeaman went badly wrong and he only discovered the result after coming round in the dressing room.

"I remembered bits of the match but I've seen it all back since," he said. "I was just relieved we got the win. As soon as the doctor told me after the game, I was made up for the lads.

"I failed the head test last week. You usually get a few attempts but there wasn't much time after the Cup final so I only had the one attempt at it.

"I passed it this time early in the week so I'm raring to go."

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