SHAUN Wane is preparing his players for what he describes as Wigan’s biggest Super League challenge so far this year when the Warriors head to Castleford on Sunday.
The Tigers pushed Wigan to the wire at Wheldon Road last season, with the eventual champions only claiming a win when Chris Tuson scored three minutes from time, and Wane is expecting another huge battle.
Daryl Powell’s men haven’t lost so far this season, beating Bradford, Catalan and Hull KR, but their jet-propelled start hasn’t taken Wane by surprise.
“We all knew Daryl was a smart coach,” he said. “They are a workmanlike team and they throw a few things at teams.
“They can hurt you – they have played some fantastic rugby this year and they have some really good players.”
Castleford’s ground, known as the Mend-a-hose Jungle, is notoriously intimidating for away sides, with players situated on the tiny pitch in earshot of fans.
But Wane wants his players to use the atmosphere as motivation rather than let it get the better of them.
“All respect to them, they are in a difficult place, it’s not the best of grounds but it’s a tough place to go mentally,” he explained.
“The players need to be above that.
“I’m hoping the state of the ground and how everything is at Castleford is a motivating factor.
“I think we’re mentally strong enough to make sure we can go there and do what we’re good at.”
Having to deal with a smaller pitch on Sunday, Wane’s troops won’t have as much space to fling the ball around in the expansive, free-flowing way which has seen winger Joe Burgess cross for 13 tries in his six appearances in 2014.
But the coach is expecting his forwards to step-up and help craft a different way through the opposition defence. Wane said: “It’s not the biggest of pitches and it’s very middle-orientated so our middles need to aim up.”
Warriors have formalised a dual-registration agreement with Workington Town.
Youngsters Jack Murphy, Rob Lever and Lewis Tierney are already on loan at the Derwent Park club.
Wigan’s general rugby manager Kris Radlinski said: “The opportunity for some of our young players to play in the Championship has huge benefits for the players and for Wigan.” The partnership will also include sharing coaching practices.