Wigan coach Shaun Wane has warned his Warriors side may not be at 100 per cent for this weekend’s season opener against Catalans – after his full squad have only had one week together in pre-season.
The Warriors gave their England stars such as John Bateman, Liam Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin six weeks off following the Test series against New Zealand, meaning they only recently returned to pre-season training with Wigan.
Wane identified positives in that decision though – not least the development of several younger players in the absence of their big stars, and the fact that their key men will be fresh come the season’s end, as opposed to being burnt out.
“We’ve had a chance to work with our junior players a lot more and put a lot of emphasis into them, which has been really pleasing,” he said.
“When you’ve not got guys like Lockers, Liam Farrell and Matty Smith around it’ll massively affect things. It’s affected the sessions but that’s what happens when you have so many players in the England team.
“We don’t get much benefit from bringing them in early anyway; we look at them towards the end of the season and when they’ve got injuries after not having a lengthy break. We discussed it with the chairman and with Kris (Radlinski) and it was a joint decision that we’d give them the full six weeks. Even if it has an impact on us at the start of the year, for the full season in general it’ll positively affect us.”
On the Catalans game, he said: “I’m not expecting us to be at 100 per cent this Friday but we’ll be quite close to it. We’ve only had a week together as a team – and no other Super League side has had anywhere near that – so we’ll have to make the best of what we’ve got.”
We’ll have more from Wane later this week on TotalRL.com in the build up to Wigan v Catalans on Friday – including his thoughts on the return of Warriors icon Pat Richards.