SHAUN Wane admits he will use Widnes’ comments from their famous victory a year ago to fuel his young players tonight.
Vikings coach Denis Betts recorded a 37-36 win last season – and admitted afterwards they had been motivated by Wigan’s decision to field a weakened side.
Wane will entrust his youngsters to stretch their winning run to 13 matches this evening – and is keen to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Asked would last year’s match figure in his pre-game plans, he replied: “No, but some of the stuff I heard out of Widnes after the game will be in my team talk.
“It will be mentioned.”
The fact Wigan have so many frontline stars missing for the second consecutive year has led cynics to speculate whether they have concerns about the Stobart Stadium’s artificial pitch.
“I would love to go there with my best and test them but it’s just not to be,” said Wane. “We have injuries and there’s nothing I can do.”
Widnes, in 10th, are chasing a play-off spot and have proven their credentials against bigger sides this year by beating St Helens and Warrington and drawing with Catalan.
“Widnes are a good team and Denis is a good coach. They beat us last year,” said Wane.
“They are a good team with a lot of ex-Wigan players. They’ll be wanting to put a performance on but so will we.
“We have a few players who will be wanting to prove a point to me that they are up for selection when we play Warrington.
“Widnes will know they have been in a game.”
Anthony Gelling is poised to make a surprise return to action tonight.
The Kiwi utility suffered a nasty shoulder injury during the 46-6 win against Salford in early May.
His recovery time-frame was set at up to three months, but the 22-year-old has made rapid progress, cutting that to just five weeks. And Wane said: “Gells has done terrific to get back.
“His attitude during rehab has been spot on, he’s taken no short-cuts, and I’m not surprised about that because he is an outstanding trainer. Outstanding.
“We all know what an athlete he is and what he’s capable of, we just need to harness that talent and get the best out of him.
“This is still probably a week too early but, because he can’t play in the Under-19s or on dual-registration, we’ve had no choice than to throw him in.” Although Wane is to hand debuts to Lewis Tierney and Ryan Hampshire – and recall young halfback George Williams – his side will still boast a lot of familiar names.
Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding and Iain Thornley will be in the three-quarters with Lee Mossop, Harrison Hansen, Chris Tuson and Epa Lauaki among the forwards.
And Logan Tomkins, Jack Hughes, Greg Burke and Dom Crosby are no strangers to this level. Meanwhile, Wane last night confirmed prop Ben Flower is facing a six to eight week spell on the sidelines due to an ankle problem.
“It’s a real shame for him,” said the coach. “He’s probably been the best prop in Super League this season.”
Wigan haven’t won any of their last six matches with Sam Tomkins missing, stretching back to March 2011, but Wane insisted: “I’m not into stats like that.”
The pace-setters can move five points clear at the top if they win and Huddersfield stumble to Hull KR tonight.