Wigan Warriors scrum-half Matty Smith believes the week off that winning in the first week of the play-offs can provide can be important in the long run, and has targeted that by beating Huddersfield Giants in the opening game of the Super League play-offs this evening.
The winners of the match that pits second against third on the Super League ladder will get an extra week to prepare for a semi-final, and Smith says although the concept of a week off can split opinion sometimes, he is in no doubt as to how important it can be after a hectic season.
“I think it is important; some people like it and some people don’t,” Smith said. “But for me, to have that extra week preparing for a game and having a little rest does you the world of good. We want to beat Huddersfield and get that extra week under our belts to prepare for what will effectively be a semi-final match.
“It doesn’t get any easier against Huddersfield; they are probably the most in-form side in the league at the minute, and we know it’s going to be very tough to get past them and advance to the next week of the play-offs with a win.”
Smith says although the Warriors are smarting after two defeats to the Giants this year, Huddersfield will have their own motivation to knock the defending champions off, too. The Giants beat Wigan both times in the regular season last year too – but lost out when it mattered, slipping to a 22-8 play-off defeat to the side who eventually won the Grand Final. He also admitted that if Danny Brough doesn’t play – something which has now been confirmed via his exclusion from Huddersfield’s 19-man squad – it will be a big boost for Wigan.
“They’ve got a bit of that spice and motivation too; they beat us twice last year but we beat them when it mattered in the play-offs. It’s going to be a great game – albeit a tough one – and they’re a big side. They’re tough to handle but we’ll be ready for them.
“I’ll believe he’s not playing when he doesn’t run out on the pitch! But if he doesn’t play he’ll be a massive miss for them, however they’ve got a great half in Luke Robinson still there, so it’s going to be incredibly tough.”