Wane demands Wigan performance
Wigan coach Shaun Wane is urging his players to prove they can perform on the big stage in 2013, starting with Friday's clash with Warrington.
The Wolves did the double last year over Wane's men, 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 in turn led to a heart-to-heart session with his players during their pre-season training camp in Florida, and the coach is hoping for a response against last year's beaten Grand Finalists.
"This is a big game," Wane said. "It's at home, in front of a packed house.
"It is a marker for us. The big games let us down last year. Some of our big names didn't perform and that's something we need to change.
"It's been drummed home to the players. We had a very open and honest chat in America. We spent a full day in the video room, I got a few things off my chest and so did the players.
"It needed to be dealt with, we don't want to be in those positions again."
Although Wigan made a confident start to the season with a 42-0 win at Salford, Wane knows Warrington will be a far different proposition.
Despite being the only Super League club not to make a close-season signing, Tony Smith's men are widely seen as the team to beat in 2013 and Wane agrees.
They beat an under-strength Warriors 20-0 in the Ben Westwood testimonial match at the Halliwell Jones Stadium a fortnight ago and are aiming for a fourth consecutive victory at the DW Stadium.
"They've got some great players and they're well coached," Wane said. "They're very competitive, they play a very physical game and they've got two good halves in (Richie) Myler and Lee Briers.
"It's no surprise to me that they're favourites. They're the benchmark, they're where I want to be. They're a bit of a bogey team for us."
Bradford coach Francis Cummins is warning his players to expect a backlash from Hull when they go to the KC Stadium tomorrow looking to build on their impressive opening win over Wakefield.
While Cummins' new-look Bulls enjoyed a 40-6 first-round victory at Odsal, Hull were on the end of a 36-6 thrashing by Leeds.
"I've talked a lot to the players about backlashes and how Hull were perhaps a little embarrassed last week," Cummins said.
"They will want to show what they can do in front of their own fans, so this is a big challenge for us. I want them to go into Hull's backyard and do the same again."
Hull lost newly-appointed captain Gareth Ellis before kick-off at Headingley when he injured his foot in the warm-up, but they will have six men making their home debuts on Friday and Cummins is expecting them to be challenging for honours this year.
"I think Hull are a stronger side than last year," he said. "They will be up there.
"Obviously they have lost Gaz Ellis and that's a blow but they have a very talented squad. They have a lot of experienced players and they have some depth in their squad too.
"They have invested over a number of years to get to this position and I don't think they will be far away in any competition."