|Like the Cup Final last
year, Wigan are being written off by the press, opposition fans and
even some of our own fans as having no chance of winning this game.
Fine by us! That takes the pressure off entirely. If your not
expected to win, you've nothing to lose have you?
Never write off Wigan! Bulls
coach Brian Noble said it all when he stated "The fact is they will
still parade 10 internationals in their team".
Noble himself has memories
to extinguish. He was a member of the Bradford side that lost 71-10
against Wigan at this stage of the competition at Burnden Park,
Bolton in 1992.
"I have vivid memories
of that," Noble recalls. "It was 1-0 after 13 minutes.
"I just remember Gene
Miles smashing everything, all these white-shirted bodies falling
off him and Martin Offiah scoring four tries and doing his
"I actually thought I
played quite well that day, in a beaten team, but I just thought
wow, what a team. They were fantastic and the plaudits are there for
all to see.
"Does it bear any
relation to what will happen at the weekend? No, other than the fact
that I still have nightmares about it!"
I can only hope we'll be
giving Mr Noble another nightmare this weekend.
He certainly isn't
underestimating us though.
"Stuart is a smart man,
urging you to write stories that they can't win," he said.
motivation that is for their team! It would be wholly wrong for us
to buy into that mentality.
"The reality is they've
taken away the pressure from themselves by saying these kinds of
things. Semi-finals are all down to emotion, desire and who focuses
best on what's happening on the day.
Desire and emotion is
exactly what Wigan will need. Stuart Raper is calling for the team
to show the spirit of determination of last year.
"It was a good time for
us (this time last year), but that's in the past and it's not
going to win it for us this year. It is certainly not going to win
us the game on Sunday.
will do is instill something into the players that I probably can't
give; knowing what it is like to achieve that feeling, but it is not
going to make them make the tackles or score the tries.
guys have got to look at what they want to achieve this year and how
they want to go about it.
written us off, the odds are pretty high, which doesn't bother me
one bit because we showed a few good signs last Friday and I have
got a good feeling back from the players," he said.
"We know we are up
against it but we are not going to be throwing in the towel. We're
not going there to make the numbers up on Sunday.
"We've got a lot of
players out, everyone is writing us off and I would advise the
players not to read papers or look at what anyone says because it's
not going to change our preparation or the way we play.
"I've had some of the
assistant coaches working on this for the past two to three weeks.
We'll go there ready and prepared for battle. I've got heart anyway
in what my players can do and I've got every faith."
Well apart from an
improved defence I failed to see the "few good signs" Raper
mentioned at Hull last week. I stood there at the back of the stand
at the KC Stadium and watched us create nothing in attack,
absolutely nothing! We played too much one out football and Lammy's
kicking game was appalling. Every kick was straight down the throat
of the opposition. We need 100% improvement in our attacking and
kicking for us to at least compete with the Bulls. Otherwise a
repeat of the dreaded 2001 grand final looms I'm afraid. It takes a
lot for me to say that because I'm not normally negative but that's
an honest opinion.
This week though I would
expect more passion, more desire and more commitment. If you aren't
up for a cup semi final then what's the point in playing the game?
Let's hope we can finally kill off those evil memories of that dull
October day, eighteen months a go!
Terry Newton's got the
right attitude. He said: "I'd die for Wigan. And, being a Wigan
lad, I know what it means to the Wigan public to get to the final.
"We've been written off, and we have to expect that because we
haven't been at our best this season, but we're only 80 minutes
away. It's going to be a big ask, but we're up for it."
It doesn't have to pretty.
Just scrap it out and get the win!
Finally one aspect of this
game to think about is whether influential captain Andy Farrell will
Raper has been adamant that he is out for a while but I saw him at
Thursday Nights Academy game and he looked ok. I honestly think
he'll play but only time will tell I suppose. It wouldn't surprise
me put it that way!
Opposition Ones to
Utility player Michael Withers
always causes us problems.
He scored a hatrick in the 2001 Grand Final and twice scored two
tries in meetings against us last season.
He can play either Full Back, Stand Off or on the wing. Got to
keep him quiet!
SQUAD NUMBER: 6