Leulua's plan to help put Wigan's Super League campaign back on track
Thomas Leuluai says Wigan will put the blinkers on as they seek to put their campaign back on track at Wakefield tonight.
Successive defeats and poor performances have drawn criticism – and questions – from some quarters.
They are looking to claim their first win in more than a month when they head to Trinity this evening (7.45pm kick-off) with a youthful side.
Captain Leuluai, of course, has been involved in similar slumps in form many times during his career.
And he is confident they can overcome their troubles with a combination of hard work, self-belief and focus on their own performance.
The 36-year-old said: “I’ve played long enough to know it’s not all smooth sailing.
“We started the year well, didn’t have too many blips, there was always going to be a period like this and it’s something you’ve got to go through.
“We’ll worry about ourselves first but most of the boys know that.
It’s more about the performance, maybe we’re lacking a bit of confidence, so it’s about getting our basics right and controlling the ball to stop putting ourselves under pressure.”
Wigan coach Adrian Lam has managed severe injury problems all season, and with the England-All Stars game tomorrow night, his problems have deepened. With nine senior players missing because of injury, suspension or representative duty, he is likely to start teenager Umyla Hanley at full-back, two 20-year-olds in the second-row – Morgan Smithies and Kai Pearce-Paul – and give a debut to hooker Brad O’Neill, who was recalled from his loan spell at Widnes. “We’ve done quite well all year with the people we’ve had out of position,” said Leuluai, who has figured in the last two losses after recovering from a sternum injury.
“The halves have changed nearly every week, the full-back, players are coming back in late... it’s been testing.
“Anyone watching the game will say we didn’t look on the same page at times, and through that comes a bit of frustration, we’re never going to be as free-flowing as we have been in the past for now.
“We’re getting tested now and we’ve just got to pull together – I’ve been here before, we’ve just got to pull together.”
Tonight’s game is the first of three in an 11-day block but Leuluai points out Wigan have traditionally been successful at the congested Easter periods.
“In my time here we’ve done that well, I’m confident we have the staff here to manage that period,” he added.
“We have the character to show we can do that over the next month because we know it’ll be tough.”