Shaun Wane grew up in the shadows of Wigan’s famous Central Park stadium, has his 779 Warriors heritage number tattooed on his leg and has worked with most of the club’s players since they were juniors.
Therefore it is no surprise he wants to use Wigan’s two-match NSW tour to show Australian fans they are better than their performance against the Sydney Roosters in the 2014 World Club Challenge.
“That tortured me, it absolutely tortured me, because of the way we started and how soft and how weak we were,” the Wigan coach told NRL.com.
“The Sydney Roosters just found it so easy to beat us that day, and it is not how I coach and that was so disappointing that day.
“I was so pleased we beat Cronulla last year when we won the World Club Challenge and put that right but that Roosters game still tortures me to this day.”
After beating Salford in the opening round of Super League, Wigan flew to Sydney and are now in Wollongong preparing for Saturday night’s historic match against Hull FC at WIN Stadium.
The Warriors will then take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a double-header at ANZ Stadium on February 17 and Wane said he wanted to win both games.
“I don’t want to go all that way and not get two wins,” he said. “The last time we played in Australia, we undersold ourselves. Now we have got a chance for the Australian public to the see the best of us.
“That is my obsession and that is what I have been thinking about all pre-season, to make sure we give a good account of ourselves.”
Wigan have invited the 52 Australians who have worn the cherry-and-white jersey to the matches or other events to coincide with the tour, including Wollongong councillor John Dorahy, who gave Wane his start in coaching at the club in 1994.
“I got on really well with John,” Wane said. “He respected me when I was coaching and spent time with me, so I will always be grateful to him.”
Dorahy was in charge of Wigan for just one season but Wane has been involved with the club for most of his 53 years as a player or coach and is passionate about the Warriors.
Having begun in junior development, coached Wigan’s under 18s and worked as an assistant to Michael Maguire before taking over as head coach in 2012, Wane has enjoyed a long association with many of his players.
“I was involved with Sean O’Loughlin when he was coming through and, also, Joel Tomkins. I was with the juniors then,” he said of the veteran back-rowers.
“It is fantastic to see them develop into men and not only that but good people off the field, as well as tough, competitive people on the field. That is what we try to breed at Wigan.”
In his six seasons years in charge, Wigan have played in two Challenge Cup finals and four Super League grand finals, winning in 2013 and 2016.
“There is no better feeling as a Wigan man than standing in the tunnel at Old Trafford and watching all these local lads play in a grand final,” Wane said.
“To do it as a local lad with a lot of local lads in the team who I have known for years, it is so special. I was born a few blocks away from the stadium and I am very loyal to the club.”
In a sign of Wane’s passion, the former prop, who played 149 matches for Wigan and two Tests for Great Britain, has his player number for the club – 779 – tattooed on the back of his leg.
“I had a few drinks one night and I had it tattooed on my leg,” he said. “I have got my Great Britain number tattooed on one leg and I got my Wigan Warriors heritage number tattooed on the other leg.”