Wigan coach Shaun Wane is in typically bullish mood ahead of tonight’s derby with St Helens: describing it as ‘the game’ – saying it means everything to him to get the win against the Warriors’ arch rivals.
The two great foes meet in somewhat different circumstances on Thursday night, both languishing in mid-table.
However, Wane has insisted that form goes out of the window when it comes to the derby, saying it is must-win for his troops.
He said: “We have to win on Thursday. Whether we were first, second or bottom of the competition, it doesn’t matter – we have to beat St Helens.
“It’s a big game for our town and it’s a big game for those guys over the hill. It means everything, this is the game. Our form and everything like that is irrelevant: it’s Wigan v St Helens. It’s game on.”
The game will be new Saints coach Justin Holbrook’s first in charge of the club – and Wane admits he’s done his homework on the former Sydney Roosters assistant.
“I’ve spoken to Frank-Paul (Nuuausala) and Budgie (Joe Burgess) because he was on the staff there at the (Sydney) Roosters,” he said.
“He likes to attack so he will suit St Helens because they attack really well. He’s had a bit of an influence on them already and the 45-0 win over Hull was a fantastic result.
“They know where they are going now because they’ve got a coach and I think that had an obvious effect on how they played last weekend.”
Wane also believes the timing of Holbrook’s arrival could work in his side’s favour.
He said: “I think it’s a good time to get them with the new coach. Hopefully they could still be patting themselves on the back after beating Hull.”