Shaun Wane braced for ‘most important game’

Joel Tomkins, in action against Hull KR last month, will be making his first Challenge Cup appearance since returning to Wigan on Friday
Joel Tomkins, in action against Hull KR last month, will be making his first Challenge Cup appearance since returning to Wigan on Friday

SHAUN Wane believes the Challenge Cup tie with Hull Kingston Rovers is the most important game so far this season.

Wigan travel to the Leigh Sports Village to face Rovers on Friday night, just three games away from another appearance at Wembley.

And the Wigan head coach admits that, despite a convincing 60-0 win over their opponents just two weeks ago, it is a huge test for him and his players.

“It’s going to be a physical game and it’s a game that we simply have to win,” he said.

“It’s another big pressure game for us at the weekend, and I think it is the most important game so far this season.”

Wane has always talked about his love for the Challenge Cup, and he says that is still a feeling that he carries to this day.

I went there as a kid, a player and then a coach and there’s no doubt about it, beating Hull a couple of years ago was the best day of my life and I want to feel it again

Shaun Wane

“I’m always romantic about the Challenge Cup, as it’s the best few days down in London with all our families,” he said.

“I went there as a kid, a player and then a coach and there’s no doubt about it, beating Hull a couple of years ago was the best day of my life and I want to feel it again.”

Wane’s love for the trophy is also a feeling that he has passed down onto his players throughout this week.

“I spoke about it in depth with the players this morning. We showed a picture of Lockers lifting the cup against Hull and we’re desperate for it to happen again,” he said.

“I’ve got players here who haven’t done it before, such Tony Clubb, Taulima Tautai and Larne Patrick, and I want them to experience it because it really is something special.”

But Wane is under no illusions that the Hull KR side they will line up against this week will be a different animal to the one they faced at the DW Stadium.

“I think they’ll have a different attitude coming into this game, one of their main players didn’t play that day,” he said. That player is Australian half-back Terry Campese, who returned to the Rovers side a week ago, and someone Wane believes is under the spotlight to perform.

“They’re putting a lot of pressure on Campese to turn up this weekend for them, and we just need to make sure we are dealing with him, the same with Albert Kelly,” he said.

“They have some good players in that team, don’t get me wrong, but we just need to defend like we have been doing in recent weeks.”

Wane also made reference to the swap of venue to Leigh Sports Village as opposed to the DW Stadium, a change that he said he is fully prepared for.

“You don’t need to worry about that, I’ve had my jabs to go there,” he joked.

“I’m really looking forward to it, we’ve played there before and had some good wins.

“The fact is that if we want it more, we’ll win the game.

“If they want it more than us, then we’ve got a problem on our hands.” Wane also hopes that the Wigan supporters will travel in their numbers to help move the cherry and whites one step closer to Wembley.

“If I know Wiganers like I think I do, I’m sure they’ll turn up in their thousands and be passionate and make it feel like a home game,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate what’s happened to us, but all we can do is make the best out of it and I want them all to be behind us on Friday.”