Wigan chief Shaun Wane is relishing the chance to see his side lock horns with ‘the worthy winners’ of the League Leaders Shield.
Wane’s stuttering Warriors head to newly-crowned Super League XVIII champions Huddersfield as the underdogs in tonight’s play-off clash.
But even though last month’s Challenge Cup winners have won just one of their last six top-flight fixtures, the head coach knows his side can do it.
“The play-offs is a fresh competition,” said Wane. “We had our run in Super League, but we then had a bit of a dip in form towards the end of the campaign.
“We enjoyed a great Challenge Cup win, but the league form slipped and now we have the chance to regroup for what is really the third challenge of the season.
“We are up against the team who finished as league leaders, and Huddersfield are an outstanding side.
“We know we will have to be at our best, but I’m confident we will bring our ‘A’ game to the John Smith’s Stadium.
“If we are going to trouble Huddersfield we need to be at our very best.
“Huddersfield have proved themselves to be a consistently good team this season and they are very well coached.
“I know Baloo very well, he’s a great guy and I’m really pleased he’s doing so well.
“His side have been first class, both home and away, and are worthy winners of the Shield.
“They were also worthy winners in both our previous two meetings this season and were definitely the best team in both games.
“I think Huddersfield go into the game as favourites given the respective form of the sides, and they haven’t had too many injury problems this season.
“But our camp just needs to be confident. We know we can attack and we can defend well, and we proved in the final at Wembley that we can stop people from scoring.
“So we just need to be at our best, which we haven’t been for a couple of months now, but if we play well tonight then I can promise you that it will be game on!”
Wigan playmaker Matty Smith, meanwhile, believes Wigan’s unbeaten record in knockout rugby league this season will be a key factor tonight.
“I think most people have written us off again, so I suppose there’s no pressure on us,” said Smith, pictured left.
“But we’re going to have to perform really well to beat teams like Huddersfield and win the competition.
“We’re the only side to not lose a knockout game this season.
“We’ve proved we can play in the big games and it’s going to be another massive game tonight
“You’ve got to beat the best to win, and they don’t come better than Huddersfield this year and they’re going to take some beating.
“But we’ve got the belief in our players to do it and we’ve worked really hard this year so we’re hoping we can kick on now and do well in the play-offs.”