sport

Mossop 'bemused' by predictions

Wigan forward Lee Mossop says his team will be aiming to prove a point against Warrington after seeing their title chances written off.

While the Wolves have been made favourites by the bookmakers to finish top of the table, many expect last year's league leaders to struggle to cope with the loss of experienced overseas men George Carmont, Thomas Leuluai, Brett Finch and Jeff Lima.

Mossop claims the Wigan players are "bemused" by the predictions and are confident the club have resources to maintain a title challenge.

"Warrington seem to be who all the press are picking," he said. "At the same time we're being tipped for fifth or sixth.

"We're a bit bemused by that but it doesn't really bother us. We've got top players who have come in and replaced the likes of Tommy and Finchy. We're pretty confident."

Mossop admits the visit of the Challenge Cup holders, who went so close to completing the double in 2012, will provide the Warriors with an early yardstick to gauge their prospects.

The Wolves did the double last year over Wigan, who also lost to Leeds in the semi-finals of both the Challenge Cup and the play-off series, raising doubts over their ability to cope with the big occasion.

That prompted some heart-to-heart talks by coach Shaun Wane with his players during their pre-season training camp in Florida and Mossop is convinced the problem has been addressed.

"We spoke a lot about that in our pre-season," he said. "It was a pretty ruthless meeting but we're a pretty honest group of blokes any way.

"We're the first to put our hands up when we don't perform. We took a lot from that meeting.

"This is a good benchmark to see where we're at. Obviously Warrington are the top team at the moment.

"It's not a semi-final or a quarter-final but they are one of the big teams who we are more than likely going to be playing against in the semi-finals later in the year."

Warrington coach Tony Smith, who opted to stick with last year's squad for 2013, is refusing to read anything into the losses suffered by the Warriors.

"Many people are making predictions as to how that will affect them but I know that they are still going to be a very good rugby league team and we will give them a healthy respect," he said.

"We've had some terrific matches against Wigan over the last few years and I've got no doubt that this will be another intense game.

"Both teams probably won't be at their best at this time of the year with the conditions we'll be playing in making it challenging to play good rugby but at the same time it should still be intense."

In Friday night's other match, Hull will have six players making their home debuts against Bradford, who made an impressive start to the season with a 40-6 home win over Wakefield.