Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane says victory in this year’s Super League Grand Final would rank as the club’s greatest achievement.
Ravaged by injuries all season long – with a further blow this week due to the loss of Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin for the rest of the season – Wigan have battled to find themselves within 80 minutes of the Grand Final once again.
They know victory against Hull FC tonight will take them to Old Trafford for a fourth successive year, and Wane is adamant that with the problems they’ve had to endure, victory this year would undoubtedly rank as the best.
“It’d be the biggest achievement we’ve ever had, I promise you that,” he told TotalRL.
“This isn’t just a current thing we’re going through, we’ve had this all season long. We’ve had players not training for weeks on end, and our training has been so impacted they’ve just turned up for games sometimes. Internally we know that it would be the best win ever if we got over the line at Old Trafford.”
Wigan have drawn plenty of criticism in some quarters of the game for their attacking play this year; they finished the Super 8s with the third-worst attack in the top eight.
But after victories against Warrington and Catalans – the latter of which saw Wigan post 48 points and eight tries – Wane believes his side have begun to answer their sceptics – although he remains largely unmoved by the criticism.
“I think we’ve answered our critics in patches,” he said.
“To be honest, I don’t know much about those comments and I don’t take them on. As long as I know what we’re doing is correct, and you consider how busted we are and we’re in two semi-finals.
“It’s a good effort from us; our attack might not have been great but our defence has been good and that’s been overlooked. I’m happy with where we’re at and we’ll go into this in a real confident matter regardless of how busted we are.
“We’re in a good place. We’ve lost Sam and Lockers and we’re busted but I’ll put 17 out who are committed to getting the win. We’ll give Hull a game; we’re high on confidence and I’m of the belief our effort will be good enough because that’s always been there. If we’re smart with the ball like we were against Catalans we’ll have a chance.”
And Wane admits he understands how tough tonight’s opponents have found it to back up from a cup final victory – but says they will hit their straps again at some point: just hopefully not tonight.
“We know how tough it is to back up after a Challenge Cup win, and they will find some form,” he said.
“They’ve got six players in the Dream Team, I’ve got a lot of respect for what Lee has done there and it’s a massive challenge. But we’ll be going for them.”