Wane praise for Wigan Warriors players during ‘circus’ last week

Shaun Wane has saluted the character of his players for not being distracted by the “circus” at Wigan last week.

The Warriors are aiming to tighten their grip on second spot with victory at Catalans today.

They headed into this round of fixtures three points clear of the chasing pack following their nervy 24-22 victory at Castleford last Friday.

While Wane was disappointed with the way his players dropped off in the second-half, he believes credit should be given for the way his players put on the blinkers following the news of his successors.

On Wednesday it was announced Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards would take over as coaches, and the following day, the former player were unveiled at the DW Stadium - with their interviews dominating the rugby league media cycle.

Both Lam, interim coach in 2019, and long-term successor Edwards were in the directors’ box the following night for the home win against the Tigers.

Asked about the timing of the announcements, Wane said: “That’s up to the club, if they choose to do it the day before a game, that’s up to them.

“It is what it is, we’re all professional.

“We managed to come up with the two points and all credit to the players because there was a circus down there, and they stayed mentally strong enough to make sure they trained well and played well and got the win.”

Wigan’s last win at Catalans highlighted a trend earlier this season - that of finishing matches strongly.

They roared back from being 21-0 down early in the second-half to claim an incredible 32-23 victory.

But in recent games, they have often been stronger in the opening half, and against Castleford they went into the break 20-0 up and only scored two penalties in the second 40 minutes.

“I was pleased with the first-half but we went away with what we had planned, and what we had practised all week,” said Wane.

“I thought we were poor in the second-half but overall I was happy with the two points - when you get to this stage you need to win the game.”

Wane only discovered the Catalans squad on Thursday, but had already planned on them recalling many of the players rested for their 56-6 hammering at Warrington last weekend.

He did try and use some ‘insider knowledge’ to discover the team - by asking former player Micky McIlorum to spill the beans!

“Micky came around for his tea the other day but he wouldn’t give much away!” smiled Wane. “Micky has put them on a different level, he’s a competitor.

“When they were struggling I said, ‘They’ve got too many good players not to come good’, and they have done.”

Wane is still without Sean O’Loughlin, Oliver Gildart and Liam Farrell through injury and Taulima Tautai through suspension.

Ollie Partington is set to hang on to his place, a week after a strong debut. Kick-off 5.30pm UK time.