Wane expects Wigan riposte
Wigan Warriors will have 24 hours in the air to lick their wounds from their opening-day First Utility Super League defeat but coach Shaun Wane is confident the champions will bounce back in Sydney.
Wane’s men left Wigan for Glasgow today afternoon for a flight to New Zealand, where they will play the Warriors in a warm-up fixture next Wednesday ahead of the World Club Challenge clash against the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium 10 days later.
Wigan’s opening Super League game against Huddersfield was brought forward a week to give them more time to prepare for the showdown with the NRL champions but Wane's hopes of a confidence-boosting win were shattered by the Giants.
A 24-8 victory was nothing more than Huddersfield deserved after dominating last night’s game at the DW Stadium from start to finish.
“We’ve quite a few areas, small technical areas, that we need to improve on,” said Wane. “But I’m very comfortable because I know we can do it. We’ve done it before.
“I remember going to Catalan last year and we were poor but we won at Wembley the week after.
“We’ll fix it. I've got some tough characters in my team, although it’s going to be a long two weeks.”
Wane does not believe the prospect of becoming the first Super League team to play the annual World Club Challenge in Australia resulted in his players taking their eye off the ball.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “We were desperate to win this game. It’s a tough one to swallow.”
Wane is confident of having England internationals Sean O’Loughlin, Josh Charnley and Michael McIlorum available for the game against the Roosters.
O'Loughlin was a late withdrawal from yesterday’s game after failing to shake off a hamstring injury, McIlorum played only 16 minutes having damaged a hamstring while warming up and Charnley is still recuperating from a hernia operation.
“Josh had a slight chance to play today so he’ll definitely have some game time against New Zealand Warriors,” said Wane.
“We’ll look after the other two on the flight. I’m not sure about them playing against New Zealand but they’ll be right for the big game in Sydney.”
In addition to their injury concerns, Wigan must wait to discover if new signing Matty Bowen will be available for one or both games down under after he was put on report on his Super League debut for a high and late tackle on Huddersfield full-back Scott Grix.
Wane will only discover whether the former North Queensland Cowboys full-back, signed as a replacement for the departed Sam Tomkins, will be charged by the Rugby Football League’s match-review panel when he lands with his squad in Auckland on Monday.
“I didn’t see much in it,” he said. “It was more reaction from Matty and I am sure the committee will view that favourably.”
Wane is taking a squad of 27 players Down Under and intends to give run-outs to those not involved in yesterday’s match against the Aucklanders in Hamilton on Wednesday.
“Between this game and the New Zealand one, everybody will get a run and have a chance to put their hands up to play in Sydney,” he said.
“That will probably be the biggest game of their careers coming up.”
One player probably assured of a place against the Roosters is half-back Sam Powell, who played most of the game against Huddersfield at hooker in the absence of the hamstrung McIlorum and caught the eye of his coach.
“I thought Sam Powell had a dig,” Wane added. “He was under the pump because I couldn’t put Micky on.
“They obviously targeted him but I thought he stood up, he played tough. He was far and away man of the match. I wasn’t happy with anybody else.”