AS coaches Tony Smith and Shaun Wane prepare their teams for tonight’s derby, very different agendas will be the focus for each.
In the Warrington camp, a loss against Wigan will pile more pressure on a team which has only nine wins from their 19 games so far and are in danger of not making the play-offs.
Waney doesn’t let us underestimate teamsJoel Tomkins
For Wigan, with a Super 8s place already booked, a win against the depleted Wolves would wedge them in between Leeds and St Helens until the pair collide tomorrow night – and would strengthen their push to finish top.
But Joel Tomkins thinks the way the cards have fallen could prove dangerous for his Warriors side, and he’s warned his team-mates not to underestimate the Wolves.
“Form goes out of the window and it doesn’t matter which players are injured and which are fit,” he warned.
“The atmosphere will carry a lot of players through the game and I’m sure there will be a lot of players carrying niggles and things like that and there will be players missing out.
“Sometimes it can galvanise you as a team and make you more dangerous. I don’t think Warrington will be going into the game with nothing to lose, but I definitely think they’ll be the underdogs with the injuries they’ve got.”
Warrington’s lengthy absentee list was worsened by a ban handed to Ben Currie for deliberate contact with a match official in their Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Leigh, and James Laithwaite being ruled out for the rest of the season with a spinal fracture.
But Wigan’s record at the HJ isn’t great.
Since it opened in 2004, Warriors have won just two league encounters there – a 22-20 win on their way to winning the title in 2010, and last season’s 12-4 success.
But rarely has the gap between the sides been so wide leading into the fixture.
Between Wigan in third and Warrington in seventh is seven points, with both Hull clubs positioning to strike and leapfrog the Cheshire set.
Tomkins is wary, though, and is expecting Warrignton’s quality – shown in flashes this season with a league double over Leeds, and moments such as Kevin Penny’s wonder try last week – to pose a threat.
“It makes teams really dangerous so we have to make sure we don’t underestimate them, which we won’t,” he assured.
“Waney doesn’t let us underestimate teams.
“They’ve got some really important players around that middle and they’re scoring some unbelieveable tries on the wings.
“Gene Ormsby and Kevin Penny scored a couple of beauties over the last few weeks so they’re dangerous all over the park, and we’ll have to be on our game.”
Tomkins also thinks Warrington’s position is not a true reflection of their quality.
“You probably wouldn’t have predicted they would be there early on the season but I think, as the competition has shown this year, you only have to have a couple of poor performances and it sends you down places so I think they’ll still make the eight,” he said.
“There’s talk of them not making the eight, but I think they are too good of a team not to make the eight.”
And as well as gaining revenge for Wigan’s 30-20 win over them earlier in the season – on the night Warriors announced Tomkins’ brother Sam would return to the DW Stadium in 2016 – Joel thinks scalping the cherry and whites would act as a warning to the rest of the competition.
“They’ll be looking at this as a springboard to success towards the back end of the year,” he added.