Ali Lauitiiti says the Wildcats have been preparing for the best possible Wigan Warriors side this Sunday.
Much has been made of the Warriors returning from Australia on Monday after their World Club Challenge exploits and head coach Shaun Wane has shuffled his pack ahead of Sunday’s match to following last weekend’s intense clash with the Sydney Roosters and subsequent jet lag.
Despite there being some unknown in the makeup of the Champions side for Sunday, Lauitiiti says the Wildcats are still expecting a stern examination from the Warriors and as someone who has been part of World Club Challenges himself, knows the week will have thrown up challenges to the cherry and whites.
“Wigan’s a great team and probably their coaching staff will be looking after them really well,” said Lauitiiti, who made his 250th appearance in the British club game against Bradford Bulls.
“There’s going to be things that they’ll have to deal with that will be out of their control but for us, we’ve just got to expect a really good Wigan side. Whoever gets put on the field, they’ve got some good young players coming through.
“It’s going to be tough, especially over there and there are some players who are going to be playing to prove some points, not only to themselves but to their coaches.
“It’s a big week leading up to the game so it’s one of those things where the coaching staff have to have the balance the week after. It is a really full on week (before a World Club Challenge) so it’s to try and taper down the week but still have the same intensity going into the next week. It’s a challenge but I’m sure they’ve spoke about, addressed and I know they’ll be coming hard.”
Regardless of the side the Warriors field, the Wildcats players are well aware that performances as littered with errors as the last outing against the Bulls will make winning any game a tough ask.
The former Kiwi and Samoa international has hit the ground running at the start of the campaign and looked as destructive as ever with ball in hand, but says the team as a whole must do the basics better to chalk up a first win of 2014.
“To give ourselves a chance we definitely need to hold the ball and get the same amount of ball as the other team, just to give ourselves a chance. Also, defend well. I know that’s the two things you have to do well in every game and it’s simple but if we can do that well then I think we’ll be in with a chance.”
At 34 years of age and having achieved almost everything there is to do in the game, Lauitiiti is well placed to pass on advice to fellow back-rower Jordan Crowther.
Crowther will be just 11 days past his 17th birthday when he makes his debut at the DW Stadium and Lauitiiti says he has been impressed.
“(He’s impressed) not only myself but all the boys and the coaching staff with just the way he’s trained and carried himself around the place, he’s been awesome. He’s a great player and a promising player for the future.
“Not only him but Max and Tom (Johnstone). All the boys that have come in from the 19’s have trained well so if we look after them and keep them coming through then I think it’ll be a really promising future for the club.
“It’s also Luke Briscoe’s debut too for the team so it’s good for him.”
You can listen to the full interview with Lauitiiti on the Wildcats Audioboo channel HERE.