SEAN O’Loughlin expects to meet fierce French resistance at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors captain is among the six players from last season’s double-winning squad to be named in England’s squad for the quarter-final showdown (Saturday).
More than 20,000 tickets have already been sold as the World Cup comes to town – and O’Loughlin reckons fans are in for a ferocious Test match.
France, easy-beats in the past, pushed Samoa close in a 22-6 defeat last Monday and have added some attacking spark to their grunt up front. “The way they’ve played, I think this could be one of the best French teams we’ve played in years,” said O’Loughlin.
“We’re expecting a really intense game.
“They’ve always had a powerful pack, there’s more to their attack now – they have some really dangerous backs – and Thomas Bosc gets them around the park well.
“It’s a game we expect to win, there’s no beating about the bush about that fact, but we know we need to perform first.
“The bulk of their team are from Catalan and I think if you ask any of our Super League players, they’ll tell you they’ve had problems when they’ve played them.
“Forwards like Remi Casty and (Jamal) Fakir give them their go-forward and if you don’t control their pack, you have got your hands full and it becomes very hard.
“They will also be coming at us off the back of some tough games so they’re battle-hardened – we know we have to do the tough stuff.”
The World Cup has enjoyed some healthy crowd figures and O’Loughlin is glad the Wigan public will be maintaining that track-record.
“It’s good for all the Wigan lads to be playing at the DW, and when there’s a good crowd on the atmosphere is fantastic,” he said.
Hooker Mike McIlorum and Liam Farrell are set to keep their places in the 17 and Josh Charnley is recalled after two games out in the cold. Kick-off is 8pm tomorrow.