England coach Wayne Bennett will be watching Wigan’s clash with Widnes tomorrow – but Shaun Wane hopes that isn’t motivation for his players.
Half-backs Matty Smith and George Williams are the only Warriors players in action tomorrow who faced the Kiwis in the Test Series win last autumn.
Bennett will be keeping an eye on potential players for this year’s Four Nations, but Wane wants the only focus for his players to be on earning two Super League points.
“I’d be disappointed if they were thinking about Wayne Bennett,” said Wane.
“I expect every single player, England boys included, that they won’t be bothered about Wayne Bennett being there.
“They’ll be going there hopefully obsessed with Wigan getting two points with their team-mates – they won’t be thinking about England.”
Wigan have only won once at Widnes since the Vikings installed their controversial artificial surface in 2012.
That was a 33-32 success in 2013, and Warriors shared a point from a 16-16 draw last season.
But with Wigan being two points off league leaders Hull FC, Wane says he is desperate to ensure their record at the Select Security Stadium looks better by the end of Thursday night.
“It’s a game that we have to win. We’ve strung some good victories together and we need these two points,” he said.
“They’re a very good team. I have a lot of respect for what they do, their halves are playing outstandingly well.
“They’ve got good backfield players and they’re always a threat on their own pitch.”
As expected, full-back Sam Tomkins, who has never played on Widnes’ ‘ipitch’, has not been included in the 19-man squad.
Wane revealed on Monday Tomkins, who had major knee surgery in the close season, showed signs of swelling after the win at Hull KR.
Lewis Tierney, who stepped in to the side last week at the 11th hour, is expected to take Tomkins’ place, while Dan Sarginson has recovered from a quad injury.
Meanwhile, Wigan pair Josh Charnley and Joel Tomkins have been cleared by the Rugby Football League’s match review panel to play at Widnes.
Warriors 19-man squad to Widnes:
Joe Bretherton, Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Dom Manfredi, Lee Mossop, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis
Tierney, Joel Tomkins, Jack Wells and George Williams.