SHAUN Wane has challenged his wounded Warriors to pick themselves up and secure the League Leaders Shield – which he believes would be as big an achievement as winning the Challenge Cup.
Wigan only have the Super League to concentrate on after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage last weekend to Leeds.
With just seven games of the regular season left – and a three-point buffer to second-placed Warrington – Wigan could wrap up top spot in the coming weeks if they can get back to winning ways.
With tomorrow’s trip to London being followed by home games against Castleford and Hull, Wigan could quite conceivably seal the League Leaders Shield at Warrington on August 12, with the Wolves to play St Helens in between and with Wembley to side-track them.
And the Wigan coach says cementing top spot ahead of the play-offs would more than make up for the disappointment of failing to reach Wembley.
“Finishing top is big for me,” he said. “It sounds stupid but it’s massive for me, up there with the rest (the Challenge Cup and Grand Final). It might not get the same attention, but consistency is what I want.
“And in the big games we have performed – apart from last weekend.
“I want to win the League Leaders Shield, and we can sew that up over the next four or five weeks if we perform.”
The League Leaders Shield – the Super League equivalent of the highly sought-after Minor Premiership in the NRL – has traditionally been regarded as being some way behind the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup in terms of prestige over here.
Wane, though, does not subscribe to that opinion.
He added: “I’d be confident in saying every Super League coach looks at the League Leaders Shield higher than what everyone else does. They all want that.
“I’ve spoken to Nathan Brown and Richard Agar and that’s the one they want, because it shows they’ve been playing consistently well.
“Last year, Warrington were good, and I heard people saying on TV: ‘They won the Minor Premiership but they’ve not had a good season’.
“For me, it’s a good effort winning the Minor Premiership. Winning three games at the end of the year (to win the Grand Final) ... at the end of the day, it’s three games.
“Winning 20-odd during the year is better – in my eyes anyway.
“When I played, being the league leaders was massive. We celebrated that more than anything else.
“And if it was up to me, I would make it massive.
“I don’t like saying look at Australia, but finishing top is a big thing for them.
“They make a big thing of it but we don’t.
“Maybe they should put prize money, so the media pay attention to it – I don’t know the answer.”