SHAUN Wane revealed how negative comments in the media motivated his Wigan players as they took one giant step towards a Grand Final appearance.
Last night’s 22-8 victory over Huddersfield earned Warriors a home semi-final in two weeks’ time – and puts the Challenge Cup holders just two wins away from recording a rare trophy double.
The victory ended a four-game losing streak in Super League, which saw Wigan head into the opening game of this year’s play-off series as 7-4 underdogs with the bookmakers – and their hopes written off by some commentators.
And Wane admitted they fed off those remarks, revealing: “After all the negative comments about my team, it’s great to get a tough win against a great team.
“We’ve had some digs, and some of my players took what had been said personally.
“We’ve had some really negative things said about us.
“But those comments were a great motivating factor for us and that’s why the players were so pleased, when everyone had written us off – it seemed the only people who knew we could win were the people in that dressing room and the staff, so it makes it really enjoyable.
“It just shows the spirit in this team is fantastic.”
Josh Charnley took his try tally for the season to 41, his opener helping to lock the scores 8-8 at the break.
And Wigan really demonstrated their big-game credentials in the second-half, controlling the ball well in awful conditions, kicking sensibly and scoring two further tries through Charnley and Blake Green.
“It got to me after the fifth repeat set, we defended it tough, I knew we were in our zone,” said Wane. “I’m really proud. It was a really good performance from us.
“Blake and Matty Smith played well, the middles ran hard, and I’m really pleased because it was an important win.”
Wigan’s reward is next weekend off and a home semi-final, though they will have to wait until Sunday, September 22 to discover who they will face.
The winners of tomorrow’s match between Warrington and Leeds will receive the dubious reward of the ‘ClubCall’ – in which they choose their semi-final opponents from the week two victors.
Wane added: “It’s great that we’ve shown our character. We’re not going to get carried away, we’re going to enjoy this performance but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“We don’t just want to reach a semi-final – they’re obsessed with making sure we get to a Grand Final.”