Wigan Warriors coach Wane: It may go down to the wire
Shaun Wane believes the Super-8s home straight will be more tense than many expect.
St Helens are eight points clear at the top and second-placed Wigan have a three-point cushion on Castleford, who themselves are clear of Warrington.
Not many expect that quartet to change but Wane says resurgent Huddersfield – who have won 11 of their last 12 matches – can not be ruled out of the race for play-offs spots.
And he certainly isn’t taken their second place for granted with five matches to go.
“I’m not sure if Huddersfield have left it too late or not, but they’re playing really well and they’re pushing for one of those places,” he said.
“And Castleford will want to overtake us and get that second spot, so I think it will go to the wire.”
A look at the remaining fixtures lends some weight to his view.
Fifth-placed Huddersfield, four points outside the top-four, have to play Warrington and even if they win, would still need the Wolves to drop three points from their other four matches (owing to the for-and-against difference).
But it is not uncommon for teams to experience a dip in form after playing in a Challenge Cup Final and Wire have been handed a Thursday night fixture – just five days after their appearance at Wembley this Saturday.
Wane, meanwhile, believes underdogs Catalans can push Wire all the way in the annual showdown.
“On their day they are a really strong side as they showed against St Helens in the semi,” said Wane, whose side beat Catalans 35-6 on Saturday.
“Jack Hughes and Josh Charnley are at Warrington, and Micky (McIlorum) and Lewis (Tierney) at Catalans, so I’m close to players at both clubs. I’d have liked to have been there and I’m jealous we’re not, but it’s good to see Catalans at Wembley – it brings something different.”