PAT Richards is bracing himself for a Leeds backlash tonight.
The Rhinos arrive at the DW Stadium still licking their wounds after last Friday’s shock 18-12 derby loss to lowly Bradford.
That defeat saw the Headingley outfit slip further behind the chasing pack, with Leeds now sixth in the ladder.
And pressure in mounting on coach Brian McDermott after just 10 wins from their 19 Super League games.
But Richards says he has been at Wigan long enough to know that form, and who the bookies favour, count for little in encounters against the Rhinos.
The winger has been involved in many epic battles against the four-times Super League champions – and is predicting another in front of the Sky Sports cameras this evening.
He said: “Games between Wigan and Leeds are always fiery affairs.
“I’ve been involved in a few of them to know that form doesn’t really matter. We’ve had some great battles against them, the fans turn up for it and the players do too.
“You only have to look at all the quality players they’ve got to know what they’re capable of.
“They lost last weekend in a derby, so I’m sure they’ll be fired up.”
Warriors drew 22-22 with Leeds earlier this year.
This evening’s game kicks-off a frantic schedule for Michael Maguire’s charges, with three games in nine days.
Tonight’s match is followed by another televised home clash against Castleford next Wednesday – a game rearranged from February, due to Warriors’ involvement in the World Club Challenge – with a trip to the capital to take on the lowly Harlequins on Saturday completing the busy programme.
With six points up for grabs over the next few days, Wigan have the chance to go top of the league even if current leaders Warrington win their two games over the same period, against Castleford and Huddersfield.
Richards added: “We’re not looking too far ahead but we’ve got a busy period coming up, and it’s good that we’re going into it with two important wins under our belt.”
Maguire hopes to maintain the standards they set in their commanding displays in back-to-back victories against St Helens (32-10) and Huddersfield (46-12).
He said: “The boys have shown what they can do in the last two weeks and they’re showing more confidence and really enjoying what they’re doing – it’s a great place to be at the moment.”