Maguire relishing play-off challenge
Wigan Warriors coach Michael Maguire believes the experience of his side's successful Carnegie Challenge Cup run can help them stay on course for the double.
Last Sunday's 26-18 home defeat by St Helens in the opening round of the Engage Super League play-offs denied the defending champions the chance of a weekend off and forced them into a preliminary semi-final against Catalan Dragons at the DW Stadium tomorrow evening.
The Warriors have used up their "life" but they are no strangers to sudden-death rugby on the big stage, having beaten Warrington Wolves and St Helens on their way to lifting the cup with victory over Leeds Rhinos at Wembley last month.
"They enjoy this type of rugby league," Maguire said. "They have shown that this year.
"The Challenge Cup run builds the confidence, knowing what you need to do in these type of games.
"I think this team does thrive off having this type of challenge. They have definitely performed when we're in this type of arena.
"You perform this weekend or you're on holiday. Hopefully we can get the performance right and stay alive."
If Wigan are to emulate the achievement of St Helens, who were the last team to do the double in 2006, they must do it the hard way by becoming the first team in the Super League era to play every weekend from February to early October.
Under the old play-off system, teams finishing in the top two were guaranteed at least one week off and in 2006 Saints had two blank weekends in the run-up to Old Trafford.
Maguire, who is returning to Australia at the end of the year, has flatly denied his team are looking tired and sees no reason why they cannot send him out on a high at Old Trafford in a fortnight's time.
"History shows that you can do it so it's up to us," he said.
"We're lucky we've got a good long turnaround so we've had plenty of rest this week to freshen us up."
Wigan will go into tomorrow's game as favourites but there will be no chance of complacency after the Catalans completed the double over them in the regular season.
The Dragons are also on a roll, following their 56-6 drubbing of Hull KR in their elimination play-off last Saturday.
"They have been going along well for quite some time," acknowledged Maguire.
"We've had two battles with them and they have been able to get the rub on us.
"But we're really focused on what we need to do this week. We're really looking to get back and show what we're capable of."
The Dragons set off on Thursday to set up camp in Manchester, a day earlier than usual partly due to the importance of the match but also to the availability of flights.
Victory at the DW Stadium would enable Catalan coach Trent Robinson to match the achievement of his predecessor Kevin Walters, who guided the Frenchmen to within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final in 2009.
Yet Robinson might have already done enough to earn the title of Super League coach of the year after transforming the fortunes of last year's wooden spoonists in his first season in Perpignan.
The Franco-Australian has not finished yet, although he steadfastly refuses to look further than the next match.
"If you set targets, you limit yourselves in what you think you can achieve," he said. "It's worked in our favour so far.
"If we play our best footie we will have a chance of beating Wigan, but even then we will have to hope for the bounce of the ball.
"If we go in thinking beating Wigan the last couple of times will get us the win, we will get our tails walloped. We will take confidence from the wins but we will have to play better than we've done this year."