Wigan spurred on by McIlorum absence
The loss of hooker Michael McIlorum was the inspiration behind Wigan's 46-6 hammering of Catalan Dragons in Friday night's Super League play-off tie at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors number nine was ruled out of the play-off series after being handed a three-match ban following his dismissal against St Helens. And coach Shaun Wane said his absence has provided his players with extra motivation to go all the way to Old Trafford.
"We were a bit passionate this week with what happened to Micky," said Wane, whose side's eight-try victory enabled him to celebrate his 48th birthday in style. "We wanted to make sure we performed for him. It's really sad that he's not going to be there but we want to get there for him."
Veteran centre George Carmont was Wigan's hero with a hat-trick of tries in his penultimate home game to destroy a sorry-looking Catalan side whose suspect away form again let them down.
Carmont struck twice in the first eight minutes to give the Warriors a flying start and completed his hat-trick after 67 minutes, each time profiting from the sublime ball distribution of another departing overseas star, Brett Finch.
The 34-year-old Carmont is hanging up his boots at the end of the season despite playing well enough to earn a place in the 2012 Dream Team, and Wane admits he has given up trying to persuade him to change his mind.
"He's a quality player but he's a very proud man," he said. "I'd never offend him by keep asking him. I'm happy to do what he wants. He loves Wigan and he wants to make sure he goes out on a high. He's one of best professionals I've ever worked with."
The Catalans' collapse rekindled memories of their 44-0 thrashing by Wigan in last season's play-offs. And, although this time they live to fight another day, they will have to find some drastic improvement before playing a sudden-death tie in Perpignan next weekend.
"Wigan taught us another lesson in a semi-final," said coach Trent Robinson. "You build yourselves up for these games. We fought hard to finish in the four and get into these semi-finals. We're a better team but we didn't show it.
"It was pretty disappointing. Right from the first whistle, we struggled to defend their plays. I thought we took a lot of short-cuts which is disappointing and we just didn't work hard enough for the position on the ground."