WIGAN WARRIORS boss Shaun Wane reckons his side’s first meeting of the season with Leeds Rhinos will come down to whoever performs best on the night.
Rhinos are two points clear of Wigan, who have a game in hand. Leeds boast the best defence in First Utility Super League, with Wigan having conceded the second-fewest number of points. Both sides are on a long winning run, but have key players ruled out through injury – and Wane (pictured inset), a former Leeds player, reckons there is not much to choose between the teams. “I thought the Leeds performance against St Helens was very energetic,” he said of Rhinos’ 32-12 Tetley’s Challenge Cup win six days ago.
“Leeds are a good team with good edges and they have Jamie Peacock (pictured right) playing out of his skin.
“Like us they have a few injuries to major players at the moment. I think it’s a level playing field and the team that turns up the best and completes will probably win the game and I hope it’s us.”
Wane insisted Wigan are up for the challenge. He added: “It’s always a great atmosphere at Leeds, playing at Headingley is one of the best atmospheres you can find and we always seem to play well there, we are all looking forward to it.
“This is a real test for us against the team at the top of the competition.
“Leeds run hard and play the ball quick and they are the team to beat, that win against St Helens was a fantastic win and they were well worth it, they scored some great tries.
“Leeds have had an extra day on us, playing on Saturday, so their players will be ready.
“My players won’t need any motivation this weekend. Leeds are a fantastic club well coached and every single player in our team needs to perform at their best if we are to win.”
Rhinos are better known for finishingly strongly than making a flying start.
Considering that, Wane said: “Brian (McDermott) has obviously worked hard in pre-season on certain things, they have tightened things up and when they defend they show lots of energy and they throw plenty of numbers in.
“This is a big one for us, we need to play for the full 80 minutes and I think what they did against St Helens was perfect.
“Obviously they are strong on the edges, the back-five are athletic, strong with good skills. They have Kylie Leuluai (pictured right) and Jamie Peacock in the front-row and Carl Ablett in the back-row – they have some really good players.
“We showed against St Helens on Good Friday that we can play and we are looking forward to the challenge.”