Shaun Wane is refusing to use injuries as a pre-emptive excuse ahead of Wigan’s crunch semi-final with Hull FC and insisted: “We will have a dig”.
The Warriors boss, missing nine frontline stars, yesterday named a 19-man squad which includes four academy graduates who only made their debuts this season.
But he points to their ability to cope with adversity throughout the year as reason to be confident they can claim a victory which would send them to a fourth-straight Grand Final.
“We’re busted, but we’ve been busted for most of the year and we’ve got to this stage,” he said.
“The young lads who’ve come in this year know what it’s about, and that game-time has given them the experience and we’re stronger for it now.
“If this had hit us all at once now – and those youngsters hadn’t played at this level before – we’d be in trouble.
“And while it makes it tougher, it will also make it even more special if we can win and get to Old Trafford.
“I can promise you one thing, the effort will be there, they’ll have a dig.
“Some people don’t like the pressure but I want to be involved in these games, and my players do – we’d all hate it if our season was over right now.”
Wigan and Hull FC have met four times already this year, winning two each, the last of them an 18-12 victory for the Warriors.
That gutsy win was followed by impressive triumphs against Warrington and Catalans, and Wane is adamant there is still room to improve.
“We’ve looked at what Hull FC do and we’ve worked on some things in attack and defence, and hopefully we’ve got the magic formula,” he said. Hull FC have faltered since their Challenge Cup Final victory a month ago, winning just one of their four matches.
Wane added: “It’s a big game, it’s sudden-death, and we’ve seen this year what Hull can do.
“The fact they had six players in the Dream Team shows the quality they have.
“They’ve got some good homegrown players and they’ve signed well from overseas, and they’ve had very few injuries.”
Sky Sports commentators Eddie Hemmings and Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson will be in Wigan on Saturday to sign copies of their new book.
They are releasing ‘It’s Been Grand’ to mark the end of their 28-year partnership.
Stevo is retiring after next month’s Grand Final.
They will be signing copies of ‘It’s Been Grand’ (cover price, £16.99) at Waterstones, in the Grand Arcade, from 1pm to 2pm this Saturday.