SHAUN Wane says it would be “dangerous” to write-off Catalan after their horror start to the season.
The French outfit have just two points after six rounds and have been hit hard by injuries and suspensions ahead of Friday’s visit to the DW Stadium.
They even had many questioning whether they could be dragged into a battle to avoid relegation following their 56-14 humbling at Wakefield earlier this month.
But Wane watched them produce a more spirited display in defeat against St Helens the following week, before toppling Huddersfield 30-14 last weekend.
And he reckons they are just as strong as they were last season – when they were able to pull off a 22-8 win in their last meeting in August.
Wane said: “They’re still a very strong side.
“They’ve not changed too much from last season and were impressive against Huddersfield.
“I know they had some losses at the start of the season but I always knew they would come good – and they’re certainly in form right now.
“People have been talking about who’s missing for them, but if you look at the players they’ve got, there’s a lot of quality there. They’ve kept the bulk of the squad from last season and they’ve added to that with some experience from the NRL.
“They had too many good players to keep struggling with their form.
“We’ve got confidence in ourselves, but we will be showing them some respect.”
Wane will name his provisional 19-man squad today and expects Sean O’Loughlin to be fit to return from a neck injury.
Gil Dudson and Jordan James could come into the reckoning.
Centre Dan Sarginson is unlikely to figure after a sickness bug, though Wane admits he is now behind Iain Thornley and Darrell Goulding in the pecking order.
Sam Powell, Greg Burke (injuries) and Mike McIlorum (suspension) have already been ruled out.
Wigan assistant coach Iestyn Harris is being linked with a move to Salford. Harris has previously worked with Red Devils boss Brian Noble at Bradford, as a player, and Crusaders.
Wednesday June 18 is the date for Wigan’s postponed Round Two fixture against Widnes.
The home game was delayed owing to the Warriors’ involvement in the World Club Challenge. Kick-off will be 8pm.