Shaun Wane: Wigan Warriors have to start well against Castleford Tigers
Castleford fixtures haven't been the easiest for Warriors fans to stomach in recent times.
Last time out, in a special one-off kit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Wigan’s World Club Challenge win over Manly, a poor start left them too much to do in a 38-20 loss.
Earlier last season Warriors were crushed 54-4 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, and the Tigers’ first visit to the DW in 2017 saw them leave 27-10 winners.
You have to go back to May 2016 and a Challenge Cup quarter-final to see the last time Wigan beat the Tigers – 26-12 before losing to Hull in the semi-final – and it’s a hold over his side Warriors coach Shaun Wane undoubtedly wants to shake.
But in order for that to happen, the problem which undid Warriors last time needs addressing.
Rising star Jake Trueman scored a hat-trick as Castleford capitalised on a poor Wigan start to go 26-0 up in last September’s win which ended Warriors’ play-off hopes.
And more recently, Wigan’s starts have meant they’ve had to fight back from 23-4 down at Catalans and 8-0 down against Leeds to win 32-23 and 9-8 in their last two games.
But Wane says his players won’t be able to rely on their comeback capabilities tonight.
“We’ve mentioned that every single day this week,” he said.
“Our starts need to be very intense and we need to be on the money.
“I thought against St Helens we were good, but (in the past two games) we’ve not started well and got out of trouble.
“We can’t keep doing that and we won’t get away with that against a team like Cas’.”
Wane thinks Wigan’s strong defence could lay the platform for better times tonight though.
They have the second-best points against in Super League, after leaders St Helens, and while the coach thinks this could provide an answer tonight, he warned any lapses will be punished by the Tigers.
“They are a quality team as we’ve found out,” Wane explained.
“We need to be on for a huge game and we’re going to get challenged defensively.
“We need to make sure we’re squeaky clean with that concentration. A few times when teams have defended well against them they’ve found it hard.
“We know how to defend, it’s just doing it because they’ve got that much talent in the team, you just need to concentrate.
“You can’t have one play off.”
The game kicks off at 7.45pm and is live on Sky Sports Arena.