Wigan seeking redemption in Wollongong

POINT TO PROVE: Wigan coach Shaun Wane at WIN Stadium. Picture: Adam McLean
POINT TO PROVE: Wigan coach Shaun Wane at WIN Stadium. Picture: Adam McLean

TWO points will be on the line, but for Wigan coach Shaun Wane, Saturday’s clash with Hull in Wollongong will be a chance to exorcise some demons.

They linger from the Warriors last trip to Australia, a 36-14 defeat to the Roosters in the 2014 World Club Challenge after trailing 18-0 at halftime.

They earned a measure of redemption in their next WCC appearance last year, defeating 2016 NRL premiers Cronulla 22-6 at DW Stadium.

It was a convincing victory but – with a clash against South Sydney to follow next weekend – Wane said the Warriors have a point to prove on Australian soil.

“I came over here a couple of years ago to play the World Club Challenge and were terrible,” Wane said.

“We massively undersold ourselves and it still haunts me to this day. The Roosters didn’t see anything like what we can play. 

“I said to the boys before we left, I want everyone to see us at our best. We want to show the Australian people we can play, that our competition’s a good competition.

“It’s not just about walking around town and enjoying a fantastic country. We’re here to get the two points [against Hull] and to beat South Sydney.

“That’s why we’re here. It’s great to enjoy the experience but the main thing is getting the two points and beating Souths.”

Wane said he’s had no concerns over his side’s readiness for the clash despite the unique preparation.

“I’ve got a very young team but they’re mature, they’ve played in a lot of big games, they’re the world champions so they’re very switched on,” Wane said.

“The respect we have for Hull is huge. They’re are a fantastic team, no question about it. We believe if we’re on we can really trouble them, but we need to make sure we’re focused and doing the right thing at the right time.”

One of the most famous rivalries in the Super League has heated up in recent seasons, with Hull having beaten Wigan in last year’s Challenge Cup final. 

The Warriors also ended Hull’s grand final tilt in the semi-finals en-route to their 2016 premiership.

With Wigan drawing most of the publicity since arriving in Australia, Hull coach Lee Radford said his side are out to spoil their Wollongong party.

“For sure, that’s the plan,” Radford said.

“We’ve had great time down in Kiama and I’ve enjoyed being out of the limelight and hopefully we can turn up and put a performance in.

“Preparation’s been really good and it’s a real long way to come and lose so we’ve got to get this last bit right. It’s going to be tough, we’ve never had an easy encounter against them. 

“We played them five times last year, and five times the year before, so it’s like doing the same homework again and again but they’ve made some changes.

“They’ve been given a license to play a little bit this year judging by round one. They’re putting a bit more air on the football so defensively we need to be really good.”

Both sides have suffered some late disruptions, with Hull losing Masimbaashe Matongo to a foot infection, with Danny Washbrook coming in, while Frank Paul Nu'uausala is a late withdrawal for Wigan with skipper Sean O’Loughlin returning as a replacement after missing round one.

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