Wane instructs his stars: Treat this game like it is sudden-death

Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane

Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane

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SHAUN Wane has ordered his players to treat tonight’s play-offs clash as a knockout tie – and forget about the ‘safety net’.

The Warriors host Huddersfield in the opening game of the post-season.

While the winners progress to the semi-finals, defeat would not mark the end of the road.

The losing team get a second chance, at home the following week, against one of the two teams who progress from Saturday’s matches.

Wane, though, doesn’t want to take that risky route – so much so that he has blinkered out the possibility of playing next week.

And he has called on his players to treat this Sky Sports-televised encounter as if it was a knock-out game.

He said: “Everyone is getting excited, you can feel that it’s a must-win game for us.

“That’s how we’re approaching it – like it’s a sudden-death match.

“I’ve spoken about nothing else to my players.

“I’ve said to them, ‘this is not where our season ends, it’s a must-win game’ – we want that week off before the semis.”

Huddersfield have not lost in two months and Wane believes they will have the “upper hand” over their hosts, given they have also registered a Super League double against the Warriors this year.

“We’re well aware of what they can do, they have talent, they’re a big team, you need to challenge them in collision and if you don’t do that they roll over you – and they’ve done that to us twice this year,” he said.

“But we’re feeling confident. We’re battle-hardened and we’ll be ready to play.”

Wane has named the same 19-man squad from last week and says he will keep faith with the line-up which beat Warrington 24-20.

Huddersfield are missing key playermaker Danny Brough from their squad.

“We have proved that we can win without Danny, as good a player as he is and as much as we miss him,” said coach Paul Anderson.

Richard Silverwood will be the referee.

Wigan’s 19-man squad: Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Green, Hughes, McIlorum, O’Loughlin, Pettybourne, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Tomkins

Huddersfield’s 19-man squad: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Bailey, Lawrence, Patrick, Faiumu, Ta’ai, Broughton, Kaufusi, Johnson, Connor