Wigan have identified defence as a key area to work on after winning their World Club Challenge warm-up match against the NZ Warriors 46-22.
Coach Shaun Wane is looking for a big improvement in defence after Wigan tuned up for the World Club Challenge with a 46-22 win over an under-strength Warriors in Hamilton.
The English Super League champions, who are due to meet NRL premiers the Sydney Roosters in Sydney on February 22, scored nine tries, four of them to teenage winger Joe Burgess.
Trailing at halftime on Wednesday night, they piled on 30 points without reply in the second half, showing no signs of jet-lag after having landed in Auckland only two days ago.
Wane says some of the tries his players scored at Waikato Stadium were outstanding, but he was unhappy with the four they let in.
“I thought our defence was poor in the first half,” he said.
“Our attack was good, but I’m a defence-oriented coach and we need to defend better that we did.”
Wane said Wigan weren’t where they needed to be ahead of their showdown with the Roosters, but they now had 10 days to fix things.
England backrower Sean O’Loughlin, who had been troubled by a hamstring complaint, sat out the match, but Wane said his club captain would be available to face the Roosters.
Burgess got his first try early in the opening spell and followed up with a quick double-strike after halftime that propelled Wigan back in front.
He got his fourth, and Wigan’s last, just before the final hooter.
“He’s very, very classy and he knows where the tryline is,” Wane said of the 19-year-old.
“He’s not the finished article, but he going to be a great player for us for many years.”
The Warriors have had to juggle the demands of three pre-season matches wrapped around this weekend’s Auckland Nines.
Coach Matthew Elliott chose to give a host of up-and-comers a run against Wigan, including some from the local competition.
“It was good for us and a good hit-out for Wigan,” he said.
“We had to make some decisions based on whether our focus here was winning or whether it was giving some players opportunities to play.”
The Warriors’ final trial is against Brisbane in Dunedin on February 23, when Elliott is expecting to field his strongest line-up to date.