PACK-star Ryan Hoffman has challenged his team-mates to lay down a marker of their trophy-credentials against Warrington tonight.
The Warriors can leapfrog the Wolves into top spot with victory at the DW Stadium this evening.
Both teams are unbeaten in five Super League rounds and many reckon the derby has all the makings of an epic encounter.
Former Kangaroos international Hoffman knows the eyes of the rugby league world will be watching and is hoping Wigan can send out a message of their intentions this year.
The 27-year-old said: “At this stage of the year it’s just two points – but you want to make a statement as well. Whether that makes any difference by round 27, I don’t know.
“But when you do play against the top teams, you want by playing good football and make a statement to the rest of the competition that you’re here, you’re ready to play, and you’re looking forward to the season ahead.”
The presence of the Sky Sports cameras tonight has not deterred fans, with officials expecting a bumper crowd for the 8pm kick-off.
“We enjoyed the big-game atmosphere of the World Club Challenge and this will be a clash of two quality rugby league sides, and for Friday night footy there’s nothing better,” added Hoffman.
“To have the two teams on top, it’s a great exponent of the game and the crowd are showing their appreciation.”
Warrington’s 82-6 mauling of Harlequins last Sunday afternoon swelled their ‘points for’ this season to 211 - the best in the competition. But Wigan’s defence has been typically water-tight and was typified by a gutsy 20-6 win at Huddersfield last Friday.
“Warrington have been on a bit of a roll and they got some try-scoring practice in last week,” added Hoffman.
“So we’re aware of what they did, they’re on fire at the moment, and we will need our defence to be at the same standard as it was last weekend against Huddersfield. We’re quite proud of that performance, we set our marker for our defence and that’s what we’ll be looking to repeat.”
England skipper Adrian Morley returned from injury last weekend but Matt King is still missing for the Wolves.
“Moz is like Sam, he’s an international and you want the best players out there,” said Hoffman.
“I played with Kingy at Melbourne, he’s a pretty good friend of mine and it’s disappointed he’s not playing, but whoever gets the jerseys, you can be sure they’ll have 17 blokes all ready to play.”