Coach Shaun Wane says Wigan’s World Club Challenge against the Sydney Roosters will be the biggest game of his career.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane has fond memories of the World Club Challenge but says victory over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday would be the highlight of his career.
Wane was part of the Warriors side that beat Manly to win the 1987 encounter in one of the most spiteful games in the fixture’s history.
The match is still talked about fondly in Wigan where almost 37,000 people packed into Central Park to watch the Sea Eagles and the Cherry and Whites do battle – literally at times – with the hosts running out eventual 8-2 winners.
“I remember it being a really tight game and recall looking up at the clock and there being just two minutes to go,” Wane told AAP.
“It went so quickly that game and it was pretty tasty out there. Ronnie Gibbs was sent off for elbowing Joe Lydon in the head when he went for a drop goal – but both sides gave as good as they got.
“Both sets of players left everything they had out on the pitch.”
Wane understands why his side have been given little chance of beating a Roosters outfit packed with star power and playing in their own back yard.
However, he said it would be foolish to under-estimate Wigan and how much the game means to everyone concerned with the club.
“They are a great side the Roosters, they are well coached and have top international players throughout their team,” he said.
“But my lads aren’t pushovers, we have some top quality players who can and have played in the NRL and the Roosters will know for sure they’ve been in a game.”
Wane replaced South Sydney’s Michael Maguire in the Wigan hotseat having spent two years as his assistant and prior to that 10 years as a lower grade coach at the club.
After falling short in the silverware stakes in his first season, Wane won the Super League premiership and the Challenge Cup in 2013 and believes he can add a third piece of silverware to trophy cabinet.
“I’ve been involved in some big games in my career but to come over here and play the NRL’s best team in their own back yard … it doesn’t get much tougher, but it’s going to be great,” Wane said.
Wigan slumped to a shock 28-8 defeat at home to Huddersfield in their season opener, but Wane said the setback was largely down to his players having one eye of the Roosters.
“The same thing happened when we lost to Catalans the week before the Challenge Cup final and I rode them hard that week,” he said.
“But they turned in the final when it mattered and hopefully they can do it again on Saturday.”
Wane has made no secret of his desire to one day coach in the NRL and knows victory on Saturday will make a few people sit up and take notice.