MICHAEL Maguire has ordered a lock-down on his players speaking to the media as he desperately tries to keep his team on course for Old Trafford.
The stars have been instructed to decline all interview requests and they will not be taking part in any promotional activity – in the Press, on TV or radio or even on the club’s own official website – in the build-up to Sunday’s crunch sudden-death game against Catalan.
It is the first time in his two-year reign that Maguire has made such a drastic move.
Players were available to talk ahead of previous big encounters – in the play-offs, Grand Final, World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup Final – but Maguire believes the blinkered approach this week will help ensure the players keep their full focus on the game.
Catalan are the only team that the Warriors have yet to beat this season and if Wigan lose on Sunday it will bring Maguire’s hugely-successful reign to an abrupt end, and crush their hopes of defending their Super League title. He said: “We just want to make sure that our focus is completely on this game. It’s an important week for us.
“It’s a massive game and we want to make sure we’re doing everything right this week. It’s got nothing to do with anything else, other than focusing on our performance.”
Despite the crackdown on media interviews, players were still using the social networking site Twitter as of last night.
The play-off game against St Helens last week only attracted a crowd of less than 13,000 and with Catalan bringing virtually no away support, the media blackout will not help the RFL – organisers of the play-off series – avoid another embarrassing attendance.
But Maguire’s focus is firmly on matters on the pitch, and with the threat of being eliminated from the play-offs hanging over all remaining six teams, he decided to take action.
He is hopeful that Ben Cross and Ryan Hoffman will be cleared to play after they suffered injuries in Sunday’s defeat.
Prop Cross experienced some discomfort from the forearm he broke only five weeks earlier, and Hoffman went off with a back spasm.
And he may be able to call on the services of Lee Mossop, who has recovered from the shoulder he dislocated at Wembley but missed last Sunday’s game with a hamstring twinge.