Why Chris Hankinson is confident Wigan Warriors' attack will "click" soon
As Warriors go looking for a third win in a row for only the second time this season, some fans will think the margin tonight isn’t overly important.
The Salford v Castleford result won’t affect their chances of breaking into the top five just yet – the margins are unrealistic – so a win, any win, will do when away in Yorkshire, right?
Matches at Huddersfield can be attritional affairs for Wigan, the 13-6 Super 8s win and 20-12 defeat in July last year illustrate that.
But Warriors centre Chris Hankinson wants to see the side swap its habit of getting into arm-wrestles for an all-out assault soon.
“We’re winning by small margins, we want to go out and smash a team. When it clicks, and it will click – I’m confident of that,” he said.
“Things are clicking into place in training, and after a game we can see what’s going wrong or why we’re not putting an extra 20 on teams. When that happens, you’ll start seeing bigger margins.”
Despite Wigan’s rocky start to the season they have managed to claw their way within touching distance of the top five play-off places and have a string of games ahead of them which supporters wouldn’t be unreasonable to place in the ‘winnable’ category.
But as the Giants enjoyed a 14-6 win over the champions at the DW Stadium in March, Hankinson has warned his team-mates will have their work cut out.
“I played them in the last game and we’re preparing for a top side, we know what we need to do,” he said. “Huddersfield play for each other. They’ve got a big forward pack and a couple of slick outside backs.
“They throw a lot of shape at you, we just need to complete high, defend well and attack “
“We’ve got our D. If we can put our foot down, build pressure and when we complete we often come out with something.”
But it isn’t just Wigan looking for their footing to try and climb the table, and some will also point out the ground is moving up as well.
The bottom three in Super League, all locked on 12 points, are just four behind Salford, Wigan and Wakefield, who can feel fifth placed with their fingertips.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t look at the tale too often but it’s amazing how close it is,” said Hankinson. “Huddersfield lost two and suddenly they’re in the mix near the bottom.”
With the table so congested, and with 11 games to go before the play-offs, places below the top three are could changes hands frequently before the final five line-up on the starting grid in the race to the Grand Final.
And experience tells us writing Warriors off at this time of year isn’t always a wise option, and Hankinson believes the squad is well-equipped to make a challenge again this term.
“I remember watching Wigan last year and they were struggling at times, but they put it together with 10 to go and they won the comp,” he said.
“Many of those players are here and they have that belief and that knowledge that they have done it before.
“We want to be as high as possible, once we’re in the top five, we believe we can go all the way.”
Hankinson though, says he needs to keep improving to make sure he has a hand in Wigan’s planned surge up the table.
Having proved his goal-kicking credentials, the 25-year-old wants to make sure that isn’t the only reason his name appears on Adrian Lam’s teamsheet.
“I want to keep improving and the more I do, the better chances,” he said. “Defensively I’ve held my own. I just want to offer a bit more in attack, and give Lammy a reason to keep me in.”
“I kicked a little bit for Swinton on dual-reg earlier this year, and I kicked for them before I signed here, too.
"If I get the job again, no pressure! I set high standards for myself and hopefully I can do that again. I’d like to be performing well enough to get the spot without the kicking. But if it holds any sway then great.”