Shaun Wane has claimed the underdog status for his Wigan Warriors team despite landing a home tie in the opening round of the play-offs.
The Warriors host Huddersfield Giants on Thursday night in a mouthwatering opener to this year’s Super League season.
Castleford Tigers’ failure to beat Catalan on Saturday ensured Wane’s outfit finished the regular campaign in second spot – a point behind league leaders shield winners and arch rivals St Helens.
It leaves reinging champions Wigan needing to win two home games to reach the Old Trafford Grand Final.
A victory in the qualifying play-off on Thursday will secure the winner a semi-final spot two weeks later – while defeat brings a second chance the following week in the qualifying semi-final.
Warriors fans will fancy Wigan’s chances after back-to-back victories against heavyweights Leeds and Warrington, but Wane – who celebrated his 50th birthday over the weekend – believes they will expect to be tested by Paul Anderson’s men.
“Huddersfield can play, no doubt about it,” said Wane.
“They have beaten us twice already this year, so they’ll probably go into this game as favourites.
“But we’re confident we can beat anyone on our day if we perform.
“The Giants played well last Friday, they beat St Helens, and we will have to play like we did for 80 minutes against Leeds, and in the second-half against Warrington.”
Huddersfield finished the season in third spot after a 17-16 win against St Helens last Friday.
Wane reported no fresh injury concerns and didn’t expect Mike McIlorum to face any further action for an off-field incident late last Thursday, for which he was placed on report.