19 hours ago
Wigan legend Martin Offiah has urged his former club?s players to "show their pride in the shirt" during Sunday?s Powergen Challenge Cup quarter-final at St Helens.
Last Saturday?s 70-0 drubbing at Leeds was the heaviest defeat in Wigan?s 110-year history and left them just three points above the engage Super League drop zone.
It was a far cry from the 1992 Premiership semi-final between the two sides when Offiah?s remarkable 10-try salvo helped Wigan to a 74-6 victory.
But as former Saints coach Ian Millward prepares to return to Knowsley Road for the first time since his acrimonious departure last month, Offiah feels that a strong display from Wigan is vital if they are to halt their alarming slide down the table.
"Wigan will go into the game as heavy underdogs, but I think the performance will actually be a lot more important to their season than the result," he said.
"Nobody really expects them to go to St Helens and win because of the current gulf between the sides, which is massive.
"But they must get stuck in from the first whistle and show their pride in the shirt that is demanded from any Wigan player.
"They need to stand up and be counted because a solid display, even in defeat, can provide the impetus to go on and start climbing the league and getting back into the play-off picture.
"However, another heavy defeat like the one at Headingley last weekend would be very demoralising and could see Wigan dragged further into relegation trouble, because they are not safe by any means."
Amid a crippling injury list which has seen them deprived of key players such as Kris Radlinski, Sean O?Loughlin and Gareth Hock, several youngsters have been fast-tracked from the academy and under-21 sides into the first-team set-up. But they have not proved up to the job.
"It?s a massive rebuilding phase for Millward, but him and Maurice Lindsay are very shrewd operators and I?m confident they will eventually get things right," added Offiah, who scored a staggering 186 tries in 158 appearances in the famous cherry and white.
"The problem with Wigan will always be the weight of expectancy on the players, who are always expected to live up to the legacy of past teams.
"I look back at the players I played with, the likes of Shaun Edwards, Andy Gregory and Jason Robinson, and I was spoilt to be honest.
"With all respect, this current Wigan side cannot compare. You look at Saints and they?ve got quality all over the field in the likes of Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long and Jamie Lyon, who looks to be in a class of his own.
"But as a former player and fan, I?m hoping that Wigan can dig in at Knowsley Road and at the very least restore their pride. I?m sure that if they show the right character and spirit, then they can achieve that."
Saints forward Maurie Fa?asavalou is out after contracting shingles but winger Darren Albert is ready to return after a two-match absence.
Wigan prop Jerry Seuseu plays after escaping a ban despite being found guilty of striking an opponent this week.
Winger Brett Dallas is hoping to ease Wigan?s injury problems by overcoming a hamstring problem but new signing Liam Botham is cup-tied.
Prop Bryn Hargreaves is set to take Botham?s place. Sean O?Loughlin, Gareth Hock, David Vaealiki, Danny Orr and Kris Radlinski are all out.
St Helens v Wigan, Sunday June 26, Knowsley Road
St Helens 20-man squad: Wellens, Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Hooper, Long, Cunningham, Fozzard, P. Anderson, Gilmour, V. Anderson, Sculthorpe, Roby, Graham, Wilkin, Edmondson, Bennett, Mason, Hardman.
Wigan 20-man squad: Melling, Colbon, Aspinwall, Wild, Carney, Brown, Moran, Seu Seu, Godwin, Guisset, Hansen, Tickle, Allen, Newton, Beswick, Sculthorpe, Gleeson, Dallas, Hargreaves, Coyle.
Referee: A Klein