Williams out to Mend damage from last term
In the cramped conditions of of the away changing room at Wheldon Road, Shaun Wane will be hoping his players return at full-time having banished memories of his '˜worst day' as coach.
Last season, the coach watched in horror as his players failed to put up any resistance in a 42-14 defeat at the venue known as the Mend-a-Hose Jungle.
And his players know they will have to bring something different with them over the Pennines tonight to make sure they come away with a win which will put them, temporarily at least, joint top of the table.
One of those players is George Williams, who has been working harder than most this week to make sure his game is spot on.
He was arguably Wigan’s star player in their 40-8 mauling of Leeds in their last outing at Magic Weekend, showing class in attack to set up tries and commanding the pitch with confidence.
But Wane wasn’t talking to him at full-time thanks to a missed one-on-one tackle which resulted in a try for Mitch Achurch.
And Williams took the mistake hard.
“I’ll work on it in training and I’ll be back,” he vowed.
“I had some good touches but that was the main upset.”
By the time Archurch escaped Williams’ grasp to go over the game was gone for Leeds with the score 28-4 and with 27 minutes left to play. The miss didn’t matter, but it’s not the attitude Williams or Wane have on the kind of details the coach is known for meticulously attending to.
“He told me what he thought of it so I’ve got to swallow it,” said Williams on Wane’s reaction.
“If I walk off and think that’s acceptable it’ll happen again.
“That’s how you get better, isn’t it?”
The Jungle is a tricky venue to play at even when Castleford aren’t exactly on fire.
The pitch dimensions are easily the tightest in Super League, made obvious from the sidelines with the narrow gap between what is supposed to be the 40m lines and half-way. The passionate crowd is almost on top of the pitch, and Williams admits tonight’s clash will be a ‘tough ask’ for the Warriors.
Wigan haven’t won there since a cagey 28-22 win in 2013, but the Tigers aren’t red hot at home this term, winning three from six.
Salford and St Helens have come away from Castleford with wins this season, as have Hull KR, who scored 50 in the process.
But Williams would rather prepare for the Castleford that fought back and trounced Warrington at Magic.
“You have to do your research on them and watch how they play,” he warned.
“They’re called the Classy Cas’ and they throw the ball about – they have some good individuals.”
But Wigan themselves are getting there. Their attack has come under fire this season for not clicking, and those responsible will admit such criticism is fair.
But Williams has only recently returned to the side himself, with forwards Nick Gregson and Sean O’Loughlin filling in at stand-off.
And now crowd favourite Sam Tomkins is back in the side, if their attack hasn’t found top gear yet, at least they’ve dipped the clutch in preparation.
“Sam’s a world class player and I’m enjoying playing again,” said Williams.
“But Cas’ are a tough side to play against and we’ll have to turn up.”