Wane insists Wigan are not taking Challenge Cup lightly
By Richard Graves
Last Updated: 01/04/14 5:40pm
Sky Sports News' Richard Graves reports from Wigan where Warriors coach Shaun Wane is looking forward to his side hitting the Challenge Cup trail once more.
Last season Wigan swept all before them, claiming both major pieces of domestic silverware but as they begin the defence of the Challenge Cup this weekend the question is being asked, do they have a team capable of winning it again?
Adapting to life without star players such as Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards has been tough for the Warriors. They suffered two defeats in their first three Super League games and endured an energy sapping trip down under where they lost the World Club Challenge to the Sydney Roosters - but the last three weeks have yielded three straight wins and Wane believes the Warriors are once again marching in the right direction.
"We're not really as consistent as I want," he said. "But I understood with the travel that we had, the disruption to our season, the change in personnel, that was going to have an effect on our season but that was something I was prepared to do.
"I think we're getting a bit more consistent in our performance and our training is going really well so we're going to hit our straps soon. The fact is we're not playing well but we're still winning games and we're up to fourth in the competition so we're in good shape and when we hit some good form then hopefully that'll take us up the ladder as well."
We're going into preparations for this Dewsbury game with absolute intent. We're going to be very thorough in making sure we understand what Dewsbury do and what Dewsbury are all about.
The Warriors take on Dewsbury in the first round of the Challenge Cup on Friday - it's a competition which Wane holds in great esteem and recalls fond memories of last year's final.
"It was one of the best weeks of my life," he added. "I loved the travel down there and the preparation with the team was outstanding. I know all the players really, really enjoyed it and all the families travelled down there for the week so it's a place we want to be again and we're going into preparations for this Dewsbury game with absolute intent.
"We're going to be very thorough in making sure we understand what Dewsbury do and what Dewsbury are all about."
That means fielding a full strength team for Friday night's clash. Wane has not been afraid to rotate his squad in the past but he believes this is not the occasion to do it again. Hooker Michael McIlorum is free to return after serving a three game suspension and he'll go straight into the side with Wane not prepared to take any chances.
"He's one of my main players," he said. I'm going in as strong as I can. Sean O'Loughlin will be playing as well so we'll be picking from a more or less fully fit squad. Sam Powell will be coming into the reckoning and Dan Sarginson as well."
Wane insists there is no room for complacency heading into this game, claiming that for the Rams' players this is their Challenge Cup final. For the holders, it means ensuring there are no shocks as they attempt to emulate last season's success.