16th February 2019, 12:49 | Wigan

Leuluai and Robinson see Wigan improvement heading into World Club Challenge

Leuluai and Robinson see Wigan improvement heading into World Club Challenge

Veteran scrum-half Thomas Leuluai believes the timing of the World Club Challenge could be perfect for Wigan Warriors and Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is not about to disagree.

The Betfred Super League champions will be battle hardened when they take on their Australian counterparts in the 25th World Club Challenge at the DW Stadium on Sunday night after beginning the post-Shaun Wane era with tough matches against St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.

A 50 per cent success rate may not be acceptable to new head coach Adrian Lam, whose side lost to Saints before defeating the Rhinos, but Leuluai believes there has been enough evidence to suggest the Warriors can cope without departed England stars Sam Tomkins and John Bateman.

“I knew there would be a period where we’d have to find our way a bit,” Leuluai said. “We had so many changes at the club, it was never going to go smoothly.

“We had a tough game against St Helens but we bounced back good against Leeds and even this week we seem to be learning and getting a better understanding of what Lammy wants.”

Despite being still in their pre-season, the Roosters are the bookmakers’ favourites to secure a fourth world title, which would match the record of their hosts, although coach Robinson is not interested in the odds and has been impressed by Wigan’s start to their title defence.

“That (betting) stuff doesn’t count, that’s just for you guys,” said Robinson, the former Catalans Dragons boss who is a big fan of the World Club Challenge and took his team to a training camp in Paris en route to England to fully prepare for the game.Thomas Leuluai will be hoping to help Wigan claim the World Club Challenge title this weekend

“We saw the development in Wigan from round one to round two. They’ve got some new additions with Zak Hardaker coming in and we know the style of play and the players they’ve had for a while and been successful.

“Adrian’s come in and added his flavour to that and you can see the growth between round one and two.

“They’re champions for a reason and that’s why it’s going to be exciting on Sunday.”

Lam, who made 146 appearances for the Roosters and 119 for Wigan during a stellar playing career, was part of the NRL side’s backroom staff up until last season and is expected to return to the club at the end of his one-year stint with Wigan as he makes way for the return of Shaun Edwards.

He insists the clash with the Roosters was not an early-season focal point, although he admits to using the clash during his motivational speech ahead of the Leeds game last Friday.

“We didn’t speak about the Roosters until we were in the dressing room before kick-off on Friday,” he said.

“And that was all about making sure we got some confidence out of the match so we can run with that into this week.

“We know what they are, they’re a classy outfit. But luckily, if anyone knows them better than anyone else, it’s probably me.”

The Roosters will be without new signing Angus Crichton who is still recovering from shoulder surgery.