Wane: '˜We are the underdogs'
Shaun Wane will have his strongest squad of the year to pick from tomorrow night, but still thinks opponents Hull FC will arrive at the DW Stadium as favourites.
The sides will kick-off with Wigan in fourth place and Hull in third, separated only by points difference, with Hull having won eight of their last nine in all competitions.
Despite Wane’s claim, bookmakers are giving the visitors a six-point start on the coupon, although most fans will expect a close contest.
And the Wigan coach has the luxury of welcoming back Sam Tomkins, as well as having Sam’s brother Joel available and Tony Clubb back from a one-game ban.
But Wane is wary of Hull, who are also boosted with the returns of Sika Manu and Steve Michaels.
“They’re going to go into the game red-hot favourites the way everybody’s talking,” he said. “I’m a big fan of how they play. We can see they’re bouncing at the moment.
“All the clubs are talking about how good they are at the moment and everyone on social media is bigging them up.”
Wane’s returning stars supplement last week’s return of Sean O’Loughlin, Dom Manfredi and Dom Crosby.
Stand-off George Williams also started his first game since returning from a back injury, meaning the squad looks healthy despite the absences of Ben Flower, Liam Farrell and Michael McIlorum.
And Wane admits it’s nice to have the luxury of picking a side based on strength and not just availability.
“Now I’ve got players fit and ready to go and it’s going to be a good feeling,” he said. “This is the first time this year we’ve picked the team – up until now it’s been the physios doing it.”
But Wane warned Hull will be on a high thanks to their form, including last weekend’s 47-18 Challenge Cup mauling of St Helens.
“They can roll into us really confident and we can go about our business and try to challenge them and make it a tough game,” he said.