SHAUN Wane has tasked his Wigan players with putting the shackles on “unstoppable” Warrington – or risk dropping out of the top-four.
The Warriors host the Wolves in a heavyweight clash on Thursday.
And the Sky-televised contest has much more than derby bragging rights at stake, with the winners assured a top-three finish and the losers dropping to fifth if Huddersfield overcome St Helens 24 hours later.
Tony Smith’s outfit have come into some strong form in the past month.
They are unbeaten in their last four Super League outings, a run which included last week’s 39-12 demolition of league leaders Saints.
And Wane has seen enough to convince him they are just as dangerous as the line-ups which reached back-to-back Grand Finals for the past two seasons.
“I do – right now they have the bit between the teeth and all their main players are up and firing,” he said.
“I’ve watched them play over the last few weeks and they play some good, attractive rugby league.
“When they’re attacking they look unstoppable, so we’ve got to stay with them, complete our sets and put them under pressure.
“It’s a massive challenge – but one we’re desperately looking forward to.”
Warrington endured a sluggish start to this season as they adapted to the loss of key men Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Brett Hodgson – but recovered to climb to fourth in the ladder.
And Wane draws comparisons to his own squad’s problems. “When you lose players like Morley and those guys, it’s not just their presence and ability, it’s the amount of experience they have which you lose,” he said.
“It was very similar to us, with losing Harrison (Hansen), Sam (Tomkins) and Pat Richards last year.
“Warrington played below their potential for part of the season, but they’re playing really well now.
“I watched them against St Helens and they were very impressive, so we know we’ll need to play with the same intensity and aggression as we did against Leeds.”
Wane confirmed forward Joel Tomkins is fit to play, after leaving Friday’s 21-6 victory against the Rhinos complaining of feeling sick.
He was taken to hospital, but has recovered and was in training yesterday.
Centre Anthony Gelling should also come back into the frame after missing out through illness, replacing Jack Hughes in the only expected change to Wane’s squad.