SOMETHING has got lost in the build-up to this game.
While fans debate the merits of moving a game to London and Wigan officials talk about the benefits for their profile and commercial links, something big has been overlooked.
“We’re playing a really good team,” said Shaun Wane.
“This is a big game for us, an important one.
“We’re not losing sight of the fact we want the two points, or how well we’re going to have to play.”
Wane shouldn’t struggle to motivate his players for today’s game – or to emphasise Catalans’ potential.
Glance at their results this season and one sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb; a 58-16 defeat.
Wigan sides aren’t suppose to lose by more than half-a-century of points. Not any more, and not under Wane’s stewardship.
But their trip to beautiful Perpignan in May turned into a horror show, as the Dragons cut the Warriors apart with a ruthless display of their attacking capabilities.
“I don’t think any Super League team would have touched Catalans that day,” said Wane.
“Leeds a their best wouldn’t have beaten them.... though they would have got closer than 58 points like we did.
“Everything went their way. It was just one of those days.”
Catalans, of course, are the Jekyll and Hyde of Super League: Almost unbeatable at home, almost incapable of winning on the road.
“But I watched their last away game against Huddersfield, and they were very good,” Wane pointed out.
“Huddersfield are a quality side and they scored three tries from lucky-bounce kicks.
“Since then, Catalans have pumped a good Cas’ side, so we know what we need to do.
“They are in unbelievably good form, better than their league position suggests.”
With plenty neutrals taking in this game, Wane reckons their opponents will play their part in putting on an entertaining afternoon.
“Look at the calibre of their players – Todd Carney has played for Australia, Scott Dureau, Zeb Taia are in great form – they have some names,” he said.
“And they like to play an expansive game, so it should be a good game.”
Wigan are committed to staging at least one game a year in the capital, as part of a plan to increase their profile and supporter-base.
They also want to tap into the grassroots game in London which has produced, among others, two of their first-team stars – Tony Clubb and Dan Sarginson.
The move to take a game on the road has not been universally welcomed, and Wane understands why the fans who can’t make this match may be disappointed.
But he wholeheartedly backs the decision, and says he has no concerns about sacrificing the advantage of their DW form.
“Our record at neutral grounds is pretty good – we’ve won at the Etihad, St James’ Park – throw in our last away performance, 28-0 at Warrington, and we’ve got reason to be confident,” he said.
“I have sympathy for those who can’t make it – people work, it’s hard to get to certain game.
“But for every one who is disappointed, there are three looking forward to it.
“I know there are a lot of fans getting behind us – they used to love the trip for the London Broncos games – and I hope they help make a great atmosphere.
“We can’t be so precious that we want to play all of our games at home. We have to do what’s right for the sport.
“The game we have is the best in the world and I want more people to see it. I want the big bluechip companies to see it.
“We’re proud of our name, we’ve won more trophies, we’re the most famous rugby league club in the world – and we want that to grow.
“If we sent another game down there, I’d be all for it.
“I love the fact we came up with this idea first.
“I think it’s good for the sport, and that has to be paramount to everything we did.”