Shaun Wane is braced for a full-on Salford side “desperate” to end their losing run.
Ian Watson’s Red Devils have been one of the surprise-packets of this Super League campaign.
But their fortunes have nose-dived spectacularly in recent weeks, losing their last six matches including a Challenge Cup semi-final against the Warriors.
Wane is not reading anything into their recent sequence, other than predicting it will dial up the intensity of tonight’s DW Stadium showdown as both sides look to keep within touching distance of a top-four spot.
He said: “They’re still a very, very good team. I tried to put myself in Ian’s position and we’re not going to meet them at the semi-final. They’re not finding wins, that’s obvious, so I think they’ll be full on.
“They’ll be a very, very desperate team, looking to come and put a performance and get their season going again because the fact is they’ve been very good this year.
“And they’ve really tested us and tested lots of teams, they’re just not finding that bit of luck at the minute. So they’ll come and I think they’ll be very motivated.”
Salford clung onto their Super League place in dramatic fashion last year, winning the million pound game against Hull KR.
And they have avoided any relegation worries this time out, climbing into the top-eight before the season split for the Super-8s phase.
Watson has a useful squad peppered with star quality, including Kiwi cult-hero Manu Vatuvei and Australian stand-off Todd Carney.
Wigan won the last meeting between them, securing a place at Wembley with a 27-14 semi-final win.
“Robert Lui’s a great example,” said Wane. “I think he’s a great talent, playing outstandingly well and he always tests us when we play against him.
“The semi-final could have gone either way. It wasn’t a convincing win for us, so we’ll show them a lot of respect. They’re a good team and they’re going to get a win very soon – we just need to make sure that we’re very prepared this week and it’s not us.
“They will be low in confidence, but if I was in Ian’s position, we’d be having a full on week, and going there playing against a team that is going to Wembley, and making it very, very aggressive.
“I’m sure they’ll do that. And we need to make sure we match that.”
The Warriors have only lost two of their last nine matches since key players Sam Tomkins and John Bateman returned to the ranks.
And last Friday’s 18-4 win against Huddersfield kept alive their hopes of climbing into the top-four before the end of the campaign.
Wane knows a victory tonight will not only boost their Super League chances, but it will be the ideal preparation for next week’s trip to Wembley to face Hull FC.
“I want good habits,” added Wane.
“The attitude the players showed last weekend against Huddersfield was exactly the attitude that I wanted. I thought it was a great ‘desire’ win for us.
“We need to make sure we’re not too cocky and arrogant this week, and that we turn up and give them a lot of respect, and make sure we don’t get burned.
“I want to see good habits, good repetition and that’s going to help us the week after as well.”