Super League: Wigan Warriors vs Toronto Wolfpack talking points
Watch Wigan Warriors take on Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Arena, Main Event and Mix from 7pm.
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 13/02/20 6:53pm
We take a look at what's being said ahead of Thursday night's Super League clash between Wigan Warriors and Toronto Wolfpack, live on Sky Sports…
Marshall excited for historic night
Thursday's encounter at the DW Stadium pits one of this country's most historic, successful clubs against the competition's newest club from all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
It will be the first time Wigan have played Toronto, with the visitors having completed their rise from League One to Super League in the space just three seasons.
The Wolfpack are aiming to make more history by claiming their first victory in the competition after defeats to Castleford Tigers and Salford Red Devils in their opening matches of the 2020 season.
Victory over the club which has been crowned British champions on 22 occasions - including five Super League titles - on their own patch would be a notable scalp, which is something Wigan's Liam Marshall is all too aware of.
"It's massive for rugby league to have a first trans-Atlantic team, it's something that's not in any other sport," Marshall said. "They've brought a lot of excitement to the competition and have a big backing from over there.
"Of course, it's their first taste of playing Wigan so it'll be massive for them, as it's a game where most teams want to come to the DW Stadium and try to get a result, so we need to make sure we're on our game."
Toronto will be without marquee signing Sonny Bill Williams, who has returned to New Zealand for the birth of his fourth child, but winger Marshall is wary of the danger posed by the likes of Ricky Leutele, Hakim Miloudi and Liam Kay in the three-quarters.
"They've got a lot of other players who you can't underestimate," Marshall said. "Their outside backs are a strong point, so we need to make sure that as a team we get on top of them."
McDermott sees progress
Brian McDermott's immediate thoughts following the 24-16 defeat at Salford last Saturday will forever remain a mystery after he missed the post-match press conference - something he put down to a genuine misunderstanding in a statement released by the club.
But, speaking ahead of this week's match against Wigan, the Toronto head coach revealed he has been encouraged by what he has seen from his side both in that match and the loss to Castleford on their Super League bow.
McDermott believes his side showed a marked improvement at the AJ Bell Stadium and, while recognising there are still areas to work on, is in an optimistic mood ahead of the showdown with the Warriors.
"After all the headlines that we created, it was going to be the case that, should we lose a game, that there would be a load of negativity," McDermott said.
"But we're all good. Even against Castleford, when we were way off and it wasn't the best game ever, we had some moments and showed some real positive signs in terms of energy.
"In round two against Salford I thought we played some fantastic stuff - it was a really encouraging performance.
"We had about three blips in concentrations - and they were huge, ugly blips - but we will learn from those. Let's hope we don't see too many of them."
Lam fronts up after loss
Wigan go into Thursday's match aiming to get back to winning ways, having failed to follow up their opening-night win over Warrington Wolves when they travelled to Castleford last week.
Head coach Adrian Lam made no excuses following the 16-12 defeat at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle last Friday and shouldered the blame for his side's showing.
But while he concurred with opposite number McDermott's view that Toronto showed improvement at Salford last week, he is more concerned with making sure the Warriors are in the right frame of mind come kick-off.
"Obviously, we were disappointed with the performance (at Castleford)," Lam said. "We played poorly at times and I take full responsibility for that.
"Everyone gets up for a game against Wigan and we've just got to make sure we respect Toronto.
"It's about us, really, this week, and how we approach the game with our mindset and mentality."
Lam has been forced into changes for the visit of Toronto, with Jake Shorrocks joining Sam Powell, George Burgess, Oliver Gildart and Ben Flower on the sidelines after suffering a calf injury against Castleford.
That opens the door for Joe Bullock to possibly make his first appearance of the season after being named in Wigan's 21-man squad, while Amir Bourouh is included as well.
Williams coping well with adjustment
After starting a rugby league game for the first time in five years, Sonny Bill Williams believes he is quickly getting back up to speed with the intricacies of the 13-man code.
Having played off the interchange bench in Toronto's Super League debut against Castleford, the 34-year-old was handed one of the two second-row starting spots at Salford last week.
In total, Williams played 57 minutes and made 115 metres from 18 carries against the Red Devils, along with making seven offloads and completing 15 tackles from 17 attempts.
As for the man himself, he was satisfied with his own performance.
"I was happy to get out there and get some minutes under my belt against Castleford, but I felt like I played like a rugby union player trying to play rugby league," Williams said.
"Against Salford, I felt like I played like a league player with rugby skills, so I'm happy with how I went."
Williams' temporary return to New Zealand means Toronto have only named a 19-man squad for the trip to Wigan, although Chase Stanley has now sorted his heritage visa and should be available soon.