Shaun Wane admits the memory of last year’s ‘devastating’ Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Hull will act as motivation on Sunday for the last-four shoot-out with Salford.
Warriors were red-hot favourites 12 months ago to beat Hull and reach Wembley, only to under-perform across the board and blow their chance.
We’re lifting heavier weights, the music is louder ...there’s something different about this weekShaun Wane
Even now, with the Super League title and the World Club Challenge trophy having since been delivered to the DW Stadium, it’s a defeat that clearly haunts the Wigan coach.
“That game last year devastated us for a long time,” he acknowledged.
“It was the manner of how we lost the game – Hull didn’t see anything like the best of us, and I can’t stand that.
“That’s my biggest fear as a coach...playing well and losing upsets me, but I can handle that.
“Playing poorly and losing isn’t for me. We did it that day, and we did it against Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge (of 2014).
“I’m the world’s worst loser, but to get beaten fair and square, you have to hold your hands up.
“We handed that game to Hull – they were the best team.
“Gutted is an understatement about that Hull game.
“It took me and the players a long time to get over it.
“I reminded the players this week about how bad that felt, and we can’t have that again.”
Despite Salford riding high in the Super League table, Wigan – with all their injured players back – will go into the game as strong favourites.
But Wane rejects the notion there will be added pressure on his men to show up.
“We have to perform,” recognised Wane. “I don’t know how Salford handle it, but we love this pressure.
“We’ve had so many meetings over the weekend and the footage we’ve prepared, everything is on for this game, because we will need to be at our best.
“I’ve had Frank-Paul (Nuuausala) and Ryan Sutton in my office – who haven’t been to Wembley – and they are looking and speaking to me differently.
“We’re lifting heavier weights, the music is louder ...there’s something different about this week.”
As a proud Wiganer, Wane is also desperate to lead his home-town out again at the national stadium.
“It means everything to me,” he added. “To walk out with Sean O’Loughlin, a Wigan lad, and Ian Lenagan behind me, means everything.
“It’s without a doubt the best feeling I’ve ever had.
“That’s why my job is the best job in the world. It means everything.”