Wigan look to history as they seek more glory Down Under

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The Independent Online
Wigan carry Britain's credibility into battle once more in the second round of World Club Championship matches, with their coach, Eric Hughes, spurred on by an extra incentive.

The only British winners last weekend have an even tougher task this time - taking on the Australian Super League leaders, Brisbane Broncos, in their own backyard.

But Wigan have the encouragement of knowing that they have done it before. In 1994, a below-strength side of whom only six members now remain at the club went to ANZ Stadium and defied the odds to win.

"As they had already beaten Wigan in Britain, that made it one apiece and there's a lot of talk about this being the decider," said Hughes from the team's base on the Gold Coast yesterday. "There's a lot of responsibility on us again, but I think that all British clubs carry that responsibility.

"I'm a great believer in this tournament, because in the long-term it's going to equip our players with the intensity to play 80 minutes, week in, week out. But if we want there to be a long term, we have to earn as much credibility as we can this year."

Hughes' own credibility has increased by leaps and bounds over the last few weeks. Widely seen as a stop-gap appointment at Wigan after the sacking of Graeme West, he now looks suspiciously like the front-runner for the Great Britain coaching job when it is decided in August - and he confirmed yesterday that it is a role he would relish. "It would be a lie if I said I wouldn't be interested," he said. "I was ambitious as a player and I'm the same as a coach. I would love to take the challenge on and, if the offer came, I would jump at it."

Victory over the Broncos on Monday would surely underline Hughes' credentials. He expects to have a full squad available, with Terry O'Connor back after an ankle injury to complicate his selection.

In today's matches, Bradford take on Auckland without the injured Jon Scales, although the long-term casualties Sonny Nickle and Bernard Dwyer could be ready to play a part. Their opponents have Anthony Swann suspended and replace him with Shane Endacott, with Logan Swann on the bench. There is also a slight doubt about Marc Ellis.

On the other side of the world today, Oldham begin their tournament by playing North Queensland Cowboys, as do Sheffield tomorrow against Perth Reds. Warrington, at home to Penrith tomorrow, have Warren Stevens back at prop, while Halifax go to Canterbury hoping to shake off the humiliation of their 70-point defeat by Canberra, who host London Broncos.

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