Shaun Wane has instructed his players to ignore the league table ahead of tonight’s Grand Final rematch.
Wigan are flying high at the Super League summit, while Leeds are at the bottom of the pile and condemned to the Qualifiers – the Middle-8s – when the season splits at the end of the month.
Wane stopped short of trying to claim the underdog tag, but he says the combination of their injuries and Leeds’ resurgent form will make this contest no different than many past tense encounters between the two.
And Wane believes it will need a “special” effort to get the two points.
He said: “They’re playing better than us at the moment, their form at Hull was fantastic – back to the old Leeds team.
“I’ve said before I’ve got a lot of respect for what they did last year, it was unbelievable, and a massive effort to win three trophies.
“They’re a fantastic team, a great club and I love going there.” The Warriors’ 22-18 win against Wakefield was their eighth in a row, while Leeds have won three of their last four matches including a 20-15 triumph at Hull FC last time out.
“There’s not many teams beat Hull at Hull, and Leeds were good for the win as well,” said Wane.
“I thought they played really well, back to the energetic Leeds team of playing the ball quickly, dominating the ruck – they’re hitting the form what they got to last year.
“My chat this week is like we’re playing them in the Grand Final – I need something really special off everybody.”
Wane was leaning towards giving new recruit Frank-Paul Nuuausala a debut at Headingley, though his team will be shaped today when he checks on the fitness of full-back Sam Tomkins (ankle), centre Dan Sarginson (shoulder) and winger Josh Charnley (shoulder).
Wane added: “I’d like to have gone there with a really strong team with no injuries, but unfortunately that’s not going to be the case.
“But we’ll be going there with 17 people hell bent on getting another two points.”