Leuluai: There are two ways we can go from here
Thomas Leuluai admits it is make or break for Wigan following their slump in form and exit from the Challenge Cup.
Their 23-0 defeat at Warrington in front of the BBC cameras last Saturday ended hopes of an instant return to Wembley.
And coming a week after a surprise 24-8 loss at Hull KR, it has put Thursday’s trip to Wakefield under much sharper focus.
The Warriors are still in a good position in the league – second, with a game in hand.
But with games against Hull FC, Leeds, Warrington and St Helens – all in the top half of the table – fast approaching, Leuluai knows they can not allow their recent disappointment to snowball into a full-blown crisis.
“I wouldn’t say there’s cause for concern, but it’s certainly a challenging point of the season for us,” said the Kiwi hooker.
“We’ve been going well, and suddenly hit a bit of a bump in the road.
“I’ve been around long enough to realise these things happen, it’s not always going to be a smooth ride.
“This is the time where we see what we’re made of, and we’ll try and get back on track.
“There are two ways we can go from here. I’m confident in the group and the coaching staff that we’re not going to chuck the towel in.”
Despite his unshaken confidence in the squad, he did not hold back in his assessment on Saturday’s quarter-final display.
“I don’t know what to say...I’m quite embarrassed to be honest,” he said.
“That must be one of the worst performances of the year.
“I don’t think any of us saw it coming. Not that bad.
“We also have to give credit to Warrington, they played really well.
“They managed the game well, they were clinical when they needed to be, they slowed the game down when they needed to.
“But when things got tough I don’t think we showed anything, we just didn’t do our jobs.”
He added: “We really wanted to make up for the disappointment of last year.
“But that’s footy, life goes on, and we just have to cop it on the chin and move on.
“There are a number of things that have been highlighted, and we’ll work on that now.”
Leuluai was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Ben Westwood late in the game but escaped without charge from the match review panel.
“I didn’t intentionally go out to hurt Benny, and I apologised to him after the game,” he added.
“I like to think I’m not that kind of player, and maybe I just got it a little bit wrong.
“There was no malice in it.. maybe it looked worse than it was.”