Super League: Shaun Wane says loss to Huddersfield was tough to take
Shaun Wane admitted Wigan's surprise opening home defeat by Huddersfield Giants was "tough to swallow".
Last Updated: 08/02/14 8:02am
The reigning champions produced a below-par performance to go down 24-8 at the DW Stadium to an impressive Giants team who, on this form, will be fancied to top the Super League table for a second successive year.
The round-one fixture was brought forward a week to enable the Warriors to fly down under to prepare for their World Club Challenge clash with Sydney Roosters but they will travel under a cloud after a disrupted start to their domestic title defence.
"We got outmuscled," Wane said. "The best team won. Huddersfield wanted it more.
"It's tough to swallow because I felt we undersold ourselves. We're better than we showed."
Trailing 12-0 at half-time, the Warriors briefly threatened a fightback thanks to quickfire tries from wingmen Iain Thornley and Joe Burgess but were second best for most of the game.
Their five-try defeat was compounded by hamstring injuries to England internationals Sean O'Loughlin and Michael McIlorum while debutant full-back Matty Bowen, the man signed to replace Sam Tomkins, is facing a possible ban after being put on report for a high and late tackle on his opposite number Scott Grix.
O'Loughlin's late withdrawal forced Wane to reshuffle his pack and McIlorum was restricted to playing just 16 minutes after pulling his hamstring while warming up.
"I would never use that as an excuse," he continued. "That happens, nothing should change. I still expected a high level of performance from us. "We'll fix it, we've got some tough characters in our team."
Wane, who flies out with his team to Auckland this weekend, expects both O'Loughlin and McIlorum to be fit to face the Roosters in Sydney on February 22 and says England winger Josh Charnley to be fit for next Wednesday's warm-up match against New Zealand Warriors after sitting out Friday's game.
He is also confident that Bowen will be available for both games after he was put on report during the game for a high shot against Scott Grix.
"I don't think Matty has done anything like that before," Wane concluded. "It didn't seem too bad to me."
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson was not as optimistic about Bowen avoiding suspension, saying: "It didn't look good."
Winger Jermaine McGillvary scored a hat-trick and Scott Grix and Brett Ferres also scored tries as the Giants emulated their emphatic opening-day win at St Helens 12 months earlier.
Anderson, Super League coach of the year in 2013, rates Friday's victory higher than the one at Saints, even though he believes his side were not at their best.
"A win's always good but to come to a place like Wigan and go up against the quality in their team was very pleasing," Anderson commented.
"Wigan threw a lot at us and I thought in the main we defended real well. The most comfortable we looked was on our try-line defence.
"I don't think we played well to be fair, we were a bit underdone, but we'll take it."
Huddersfield will check on the fitness of second rower Larne Patrick (knee) and hooker Shaun Lunt (ankle) knowing they will have a fortnight until they play again.