Wane: Green the biggest threat to Warriors
Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane has identified Australian stand-off Blake Green as the biggest threat to his side’s chances of topping Stobart Super League tomorrow night.
The Warriors will leapfrog Huddersfield Giants into pole position if they extend their winning run to seven matches with victory over Hull KR at the DW Stadium.
Wigan have won the last seven meetings with the Robins and triumphed 40-6 in the corresponding fixture last year but Wane is expecting a closer contest tomorrow as the visitors seek to get their top-eight ambitions back on track.
Hull KR slipped out of the play-off placings after winning just four of their opening 11 Super League matches, but returned to winning ways last time out against London Broncos in a match that marked the return of Green.
Rovers’ player-of-the-year in 2011 was forced to sit out the first three months of the season after discovering a blood clot in his calf but he is now back in tandem with his half-back partner and fellow countryman Michael Dobson.
“They have been up and down but the big difference is Blake Green now he’s come back from his illness,” said Wane.
“Blake Green and Michael Dobson are two great halves and we’ve got to make sure they are under pressure.
“If you let them play, they will score tries and that can’t happen at the DW. This is a really important game. They have threats all over the park so we need to be at our best.”
Dobson, who had a spell at Wigan in 2006, admits the return of his half-back partner could be key to the Robins’ play-off bid.
“He adds a big dimension to our team,” Dobson said. “When he plays well and when I play well, the team usually goes pretty good.”
Wigan have confirmed that goalkicking winger Pat Richards, the 2010 Man of Steel, is facing a 12-week lay-off after undergoing knee surgery.
Wane added: “It is disappointing for Pat and for the club but he should be back in contention for the business end of the season.
“It provides an opportunity for another player in the squad to stake their claim for a place.”
Richards’ absence could mean an extended run for New Zealander Anthony Gelling, who made his third appearance for the club in last Friday’s cup win at Featherstone.
Wane, whose side’s last defeat by Hull KR was at the JJB Stadium in 2009, is confident his players will not be distracted by next week’s blockbusting Carnegie Challenge Cup clash with St Helens but admits it is in his mind.
“I want a real convincing performance this Friday to set us up for Saints the week after,” he said.
St Helens acting head coach Mike Rush will also be hoping his players can focus on matters in hand when they take on lowly Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Langtree Park tomorrow.
“We listened to the draw on the radio and then it was straight into preview for the Wakefield game,” he said.
“We know what we’ve got to do. We need two points on Friday and then when we wake up on Saturday morning, we can start thinking about the cup.”
Saints are boosted by the return of England forward Jon Wilkin while Wakefield’s former St Helens forward Paul Johnson comes back from a two-match absence to face his old team, taking the place of Oliver Wilkes, who is out with a thumb injury.