Wane: It’s down to the players now

Warriors coach Shaun Wane

Warriors coach Shaun Wane

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SHAUN Wane knows this afternoon’s Challenge Cup final against Hull FC is a big game – his phone has not stopped all week.

But the Warriors coach insists it’s all about the players as they go in search of a record 19th victory in the famous competition.

Wigan are heavy odds-on to return home with the cup for the second time in three years.

And Wane says – despite recent disappointments in the league – the spirit could not be better going into the game.

“We did things wrong when we came here two years ago, and we’ve tried to make it more upbeat this time,” he said. You live and learn by mistakes. And Rads (Kris Radlinski)has done a great job.

“This is one game we know belongs the players, and they know how to win the game.

“It’s got the makings of a great game. But it’s about how to execute – it’s as simple as that.”

Having played for the cherry and whites in a Wembley showpiece, Wane knows how much it means to the town and the club.

“The battery on my phone has gone already,” he smiled.

“I’ve had loads of messages from Australia, New Zealand, this country. Everyone knows it’s a big occasion.

“We’re all looking forward to it, we’re all excited, and for the players who’ve not been before it’s a chance to get a feel for it, and take advantage of it.

“It is a big one for people who have played there, but at the end of the day it’s about doing it.”

Wane will leave it late before finalising his team but injury doubts over skipper Sean O’Loughlin and centre Darrell Goulding have thankfully cleared up.

Both trained in a closed session on the Wembley pitch along with Dom Crosby and Jack Hughes, who are expected to drop out of the 19-man squad. “I’m going to check a few things when we get back to the hotel,” Wane said. “I’ll finalise it when I get back.

“But everybody is good. We’ve had a good crisp session. We’re very happy.”

O’Loughlin has missed the last two games with a calf problem, but says it will take more than a slight knock to prevent him leading his home-town out at Wembley.

“Last week it hadn’t settled down as much as I hoped it would and I was a bit stressed out when I didn’t get a run-out against Catalan,” he said.

“But after the weekend I got a run on it.

“It was nothing major, just a pull in my calf.”

Hot sunshine greeted the players on Friday but, with heavy rain forecast for today, Wane is confident his players will be ready for wet-weather rugby.

“We’ll make sure they look after the ball,” he said.

“We’ve practised our contact with the ball today.”

Former Wigan captain Andy Farrell presented the jerseys at the team hotel and will be among the crowd, along with the rest of Saracens’ Wigan connection including Joel Tomkins, with Sir Bradley Wiggins also set to be in attendance after flying down by helicopter.