SHAUN Wane defended his decision to rest five senior players as Wigan suffered a shock defeat at Widnes.
The Warriors let a 36-18 lead early in the second-half slip from their grasp as Widnes stormed back to evel the scores, before Lloyd White struck a drop-goal to clinch a dramatic 37-36 win – and deny Wigan the chance to go top of the league.
Widnes had lost their previous five matches in Super League but Wane denied that he under-estimated their opponents by handing debuts to four players - as he left star players Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Thomas Leuluai and Liam Farrell out of his side.
He said: “They were going to click, and we didn’t underestimate them one little bit.
“The team I picked was 100 per cent capable of winning that game.
“They played well, we didn’t, they thorough deserved it. I’m absolutely gutted.”
Wigan had a late chance to snatch the win but Josh Charnley, who had earlier booted six goals from as many attempts, pushed a penalty attempt off-target.
“We had time to kill the game off before that,” said Wane. “We didn’t keep the pressure on. I had five debuts and I needed to learn about those players.”
Asked whether all five were rested, he replied: “There was a doubt over a couple, but I want to go back to the fact the team I fielded was 100 per cent capable of winning.
“Our defence in our own third was unacceptable. And it will never happen again.”
Darrell Goulding suffered concussion during the second-half but should be fine. Wane, though, has a bigger concern over Lee Mossop, who left the pitch in the first-half with suspected ankle ligament damage. He will have the joint scanned today.
Widnes coach Denis Betts, the Wigan legend, admitted Wane’s decision to rest some players was used as motivation for their players.
“We spoke about it,” he said. “We weren’t playing as badly as everyone believed we were, so the motivation of them leaving players out...
“But if I’m totally honest, if I had a squad the size that Shaun’s got, I’d probably have done the same. You have to expose those lads and Shaun took that risk today.”