Wigan coach Shaun Wane insists his team’s 42-12 hammering by Brisbane Broncos will be “the best thing that’s happened to us”.
Pipped 14-12 in extra time by Wayne Bennett’s Broncos a year ago, the Warriors were thought to have the best chance of gaining some overdue success for Super League in the World Club Series, but they were simply out-classed by opponents who not only ran harder and faster but produced some sublime pieces of skill to which their hosts had no answer.
“We just got beaten by the better team,” Wane said. “They had too many big athletes and we couldn’t handle them.
“We were beaten in many facets of the game by a really good team and it’s not good enough. I’m disappointed but there are two ways of responding – some teams will sulk and others dust themselves down and make sure they get better.
“We need to get back into Salford on Thursday and I’m glad it’s so quick.
“As daft as it sounds, that will be the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
“We need to use that as a springboard, a learning curve and make sure we bounce back on Thursday.”
Wigan’s misery was compounded by the loss of hooker Michael McIlorum with a broken ankle that could end his season, while second rower Willie Isa and scrum-half Matty Smith also failed to finish the game after picking up knee injuries.
“It’s a bad one I think,” Wane said of McIlorum’s injury. “It’s too early to assess him. He’s gone straight to the hospital.
“Willie Isa has done something to his knee, so it could be a costly one.”
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, the newly-appointed England boss, admitted his side’s victory came easier than he expected.
“I wouldn’t blame them,” Bennett said of Wigan. “They fixed the pitch up and the weather was good.
“I’m happy with our performance, particularly with the intent and the way they went out to play game.
“We expected a pretty tough game and it certainly was tough at certain stages and then the score got away which took the pressure off.”
The seven-try demolition of Wigan, which followed Sydney Roosters’ equally ruthless 38-12 rout of St Helens 24 hours earlier, put the Australian clubs 2-0 up in the three-match series, ahead of champions Leeds Rhinos competing in last night’s World Club Challenge against North Queensland.
Bennett said: “I thought St Helens tried extremely hard last night and I thought Wigan tried extremely hard as well tonight. But St Helens probably didn’t have those quality players that the Roosters have and maybe that was the case here as well tonight.”
Former Huddersfield and Hull KR player Greg Eden scored a long-range try and impressed Bennett enough on his first appearance for the Broncos to clinch a place for the opening round of the NRL against Parramatta on March 3.
“I was really pleased with him,” Bennett said.
“He had to earn opportunity tonight.
“He had get my trust and respect and it’s been 15 months in the making. To his credit he stayed last year when he didn’t get an opportunity. I thought he’d go back to England but he didn’t, he hung in.
“We all knew he was talented but he had to prove some other things to me.”
Wigan: Tierney, Gildart, Gelling, Sarginson, Manfredi, Williams, Smith, O’Loughlin, McIlorum, Flower, Farrell, Isa, Bateman. Substitutes: Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Sutton.
Brisbane: Boyd, Oates, Roberts, Kahu, Eden, Milford, Nikorima, Blair, McCullough, McGuire, Gillett, Glenn, Parker. Substitutes: Thaiday, Wallace, Ofahengaue, Waddell.
Referee: M Cecchin (Australia).