NEW-boy Ryan Hoffman cannot wait to be unleashed on the Australian champions this weekend – admitting there is no other team in the world he would rather be facing.
NRL premiers St George-Illawarra and Hoffman’s old club, Melbourne, had an intense rivalry that he is looking forward to reviving – for one night only – in Wigan’s colours in Sunday’s World Club Challenge.
Hoffman said: “If you asked anyone in Melbourne, if they had the chance to play against the Dragons, they’d take it. They’d take it 100 times over. I’m no different.”
Wigan swooped to sign the former Kangaroos international when Melbourne were looking to shed some of their stars to meet salary cap demands. Their previous breaches saw them stripped of two of their NRL titles, and last season they played for no points – meaning they didn’t get the chance to challenge the Dragons for last year’s premiership.
“I’m not going to say I wish I could have played in the Grand Final because that’s a non-event, but you want to play against the best and test yourself against the best and I have that chance this weekend,” said the 26-year-old.
“The way it happened, it got taken out of our hands, but the Dragons were the best team in the competition by a street.
“We only played them once last year and managed to get a win, but their consistency in the year showed they were the best team in the competition.
“It’s worked out well that, coming here, I’ve now got the chance to play the best from the NRL again.”
Hoffman has also worked alongside some of the Dragons’ best players with the New South Wales and Australia Test squads - knowledge which can help in Wigan’s preparations.
“The Dragons play a similar style to ourselves,” he said. “They are a very disciplined side and do all the little things well, they complete their sets and defend well. If you give teams like the Dragons too much ball you can find yourself on the wrong end of the scoreline.”
Hoffman – who has a one-year deal with Wigan – has impressed coaches and team-mates with his professionalism and determination. He showed his quality in his two Super League outings so far, a 16-16 draw at St Helens and a 44-10 win at Bradford last Sunday – and could not have picked a better game to make his home debut in.
“I’ve said before that when I’ve played over here, the crowd has always been booing me,” he smiled. “So it’ll be great to have them cheering for me. I can’t wait.”
Wigan also recruited Brett Finch and Jeff Lima from Melbourne, though they won’t be playing this weekend due to injury and suspension respectively, meaning Hoffman is the only Warrior who wasn’t a member of the first-team squad last year.