Warriors '˜feeding' off the defence factor
Wigan are tapping into recent history in the hope it will propel them towards a fifth successive Grand Final spot.
Assistant coach John Winder revealed they have used last year’s title-winning exploits as motivation and reminded the players it is their trophy to defend – in the hope it will provide the “spark” they need.
They head to Hull FC on Friday seeking a fourth straight league win.
And Winder said: “We feed off being defending champions – it’s our trophy to defend. It was a monumental effort last year to win the Grand Final, and the pride we all felt afterwards.
“And sometimes it’s easy to forget that, because 12 months in sport is like three lifetimes.
“So we’re taking the players’ minds back to what they achieved, and how they achieved it, and hopefully it will spark them for the next five games.
“We need to come away on Friday night feeling proud of our performance and if we do that, we’ll be on the right side of the result.”
League wins against Huddersfield and Salford were followed by a 26-16 victory against St Helens last Friday – a week after a Challenge Cup Final loss – to move Wigan to within a point of fourth-spot, with three rounds remaining.
If Wigan lose this week, they would need other results to go in their favour to still make the play-offs spot – and Winder says they can’t afford to leave anything to chance.
“If you look at the table and the permutations, you end up getting a headache and giving up,” smiled Winder, who took Wigan’s weekly press conference in place of Shaun Wane.
“The message we’re saying to the boys is really simple – if we win our next five games, we will be Super League champions.
“We beat Salford and Huddersfield, and now St Helens, and we’ve got ourselves back into a position where we’ve got a chance.
“It’s difficult, but that’s where we’re at. I think it was round 11 when we were last in the top-four and we’re striving for it.”
Winder said they had yet to decide whether to make any changes to the side, but many would expect Tom Davies to replace Liam Marshall on the wing, and Ryan Sutton to return ahead of Jack Wells. Joel Tomkins is also fit and pushing for a recall.
Hull FC will be without Gareth Ellis and Steve Michaels, who are banned after taking early guilty pleas on disciplinary charges. Robert Hicks will be the referee.