WHISPER it quietly, but there’s only one Super League team who Shaun Wane has yet to mastermind a victory against during his spell as head coach.
And tonight he’ll get a chance to claim that first win against when his Warriors outfit make the short trip to the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The Wolves, who trail Wigan by six points in the ladder, have hit a good run of form, racing in 198 points in just their last three matches.
And Wane says he always expected them to rediscover their ruthlessness after failing to hit top gear for large spells earlier this season.
“Even when they were treading water, they were still playing well,” said Wane.
“And in the last few weeks they’ve been playing really well and scored a lot of points.
“But the fact is, they’ve not been in an arm-wrestle.”
Wigan have a miserable recent record against Warrington.
Since 2010, they have won just two games – Michael Maguire’s first in charge, when David Solomona spilled a chance to claim a Wolves win – and a Challenge Cup quarter-final the following year.
But Wane did manage to push them to a 17-17 draw earlier this year, while even the most one-eyed Warrington fans may admit there was a good dose of fortune surrounding their 22-20 the previous year.
“In round two, we could and should have won it,” said Wane.
“We weren’t far off.
“But the fact is they’re one of the top teams of the last few years, they’re challenging for trophies and they deserve the plaudits because they’re a really good club.
“They have a lot of quality, they’re well coached, and they know each others’ roles.
“You look at their squad and I don’t see a weakness. They have strike on both sides, they’re strong in the pack - we’ve got a challenge.”
Tony Smith is able to boast a near-full strength line-up - in stark contrast to Wane’s current position.
He is missing a clutch of key personnel including Sean O’Loughlin, Mike McIlorum, Ben Flower and Blake Green, and has several more preparing to play through the pain barrier.
The Wolves are renowned to be strong up front, yet the Warriors will need to combat that with just three specialist props – Lee Mossop, Epa Lauaki and Dom Crosby.
And elsewhere, Wane has no choice but to give youngsters such as Greg Burke, Sam Powell and Logan Tomkins further chances to impress.
“It’s another chance for me to see where we’re at as a squad,” said Wane.
“We’re under the pump and it’s a good challenge, and one we’re looking forward to.
“One thing I can promise Warrington – they will know they’ve been in a game.
“We gave the players five days off, because we drive them hard and we wanted their bodies to have some recovery, and they’ve all come in like different people.
“We’re ready for a big test.”