SHAUN Wane has laughed off suggestions Leeds may be distracted by the World Club Challenge when they welcome the champions to the DW Stadium tonight.
The fact these sides won both major trophies last season – and have a history of epic exchanges – make for a mouth-watering encounter in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Leeds face NRL premiers Manly in six days’ time for the right to be crowned the best rugby league club side in the world.
And Wane says that game will motivate, rather than distract, Brian McDermott’s outfit.
While other clubs can afford to simmer along at this time of the year, picking up wins without peaking, the Rhinos want to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2008.
Since then, the Headingley outfit have lost three WCC deciders including two to the Sea Eagles – their opponents nexty Friday.
And Wane said: “The World Club won’t be a distraction at all.
“When we played St George-Illawarra last year, we put in a good performance against Bradford the week before.
“The players knew that if they didn’t perform against Bradford they wouldn’t be involved in the World Club, and that’s motivation enough. So the only way that will impact on them is it’ll make them more determined to put in a good performance.
“They’ll want to go into that game next week on the back of a good display, so we know we’re going to have to be at our best.”
Wigan are desperate to get off the mark after a 20-16 defeat against Huddersfield in their opening day.
But they face a tough task against a Leeds outfit unbeaten since the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, and with a fully-fit squad to call on.
McDermott has left out two members of last year’s Grand Final-winning team.
By contrast, Wane is missing five regulars – Stuart Fielden, Amos Roberts, Paul Prescott, George Carmont (injury) and Liam Farrell (suspension) and will hand a debut to prop Tom Spencer off the bench, while Jack Hughes is expected to get the nod at centre after being preferred to Kiwi recruit Anthony Gelling.
Hughes, who figured twice for the first-team last year, may have the responsibility of shackling Kallum Watkins, who bagged a hat-trick for the Rhinos last week. McDermott added: “I didn’t think Wigan were far off (last week).”