Leeds coach David Furner expects a reaction from his players after their disappointing start to the new season when they tackle reigning champions Wigan at the DW Stadium on Friday, live on Sky Sports.
The Rhinos were no match for Warrington in Furner’s first game in charge, losing 26-6 in round one of the Betfred Super League last Saturday, and the new coach is expecting them to bounce back.
“I know the players were very disappointed, the bus trip back was fairly quiet,” Furner said.
“As a player and as a coach, you want to jump straight back into the game and I’ve got that real good sense.”
Wigan Warriors vs Leeds Rhinos
February 8, 2019, 7:00pm
After splashing out on overseas players Konrad Hurrell, Tui Lolohea and Trent Merrin in the close season, Leeds were expected to challenge strongly for the title in 2019.
Furner expects the newcomers to live up to the big expectations once they settle into the team.
“It was round one and it’s about working hard on connections,” he said. “You can do so much in training but in a game situation, there is a bit more pressure, you’re playing for points, and it can change.
“I think that hit-out, particularly for the new players, was a very good experience for them.
“I thought they may have been a little bit nervous, which is understandable, but they’re certainly looking forward to playing again on that short turn-around.”
Wigan are also looking to open their account after losing to St Helens on the opening day. They are currently on minus two after being docked points for a salary cap breach which the club are contesting.
Warriors new coach Adrian Lam is also hoping for a confidence boost ahead of the World Club Challenge with Sydney Roosters on Sunday week, although that is of little concern to his former Wigan team-mate Furner.
“That’s for Wigan to work out,” said Furner, who won the Challenge Cup playing alongside Lam during his two seasons at the club from 2001 to 2002.
“We know what we’re going to get from Wigan – they’re the Grand Final-winning team from last year – but it’s about us and improving from last week and I’ve made that point fairly clear to the players.”
Lam, who like Furner is set to keep an unchanged team, has prepared his side for a Leeds backlash.
“I think everyone understands that they’re in a transition period,” he said. “They’ve got a new coach, like Wigan.
“I know David wouldn’t have been really impressed with the way they played last week and the score.
“They’ve been a great club over a long period of time and we have no doubt they’re going to turn up this week and have a game plan to win and get back on track themselves.
“We respect what they’ve done and how they’ll respond and we’ve trained accordingly to make sure we don’t get caught out by the way they approach the game.”
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Joe Bullock, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Morgan Escaré, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Joe Greenwood, Gabe Hamlin, Zak Hardaker, Willie Isa, Tommy Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Romain Navarrete, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Taulima Tautai, George Williams.
📰 Dave Furner has named his 19 man squad for this Friday's @superleague game at @WiganWarriorsRL kick off 7.45pm with Peteru and Newman replacing Jones-Buchanan and Smith from last week's 19 man squad
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