IT’S getting increasingly harder for Latics to continue pulling rabbits from the hat, given the ventures and adventures of the last decade.
But now they are poised to create even more history, taking their first tentative steps into Europe with a game in Bruge.
Last weekend’s 2-0 loss at Leicester was hardly the perfect preparation, but Wigan have proved in the past they have an ability to draw a line and start afresh, and that’s the challenge this week.
It’s their first taste of European football, but they won’t be strangers to many on the continent, having gained more fame from their historic FA Cup triumph last May. Of course, whatever the result, Wigan will have little time to bask in the success of reaching that level; less than 72 hours after playing in Belgium they’ll be back in league action at the DW against Ipswich, and just two days later their is the small matter of a League Cup fixture against Manchester City.
And we all remember what happened the last time they met.
I’ve nothing against the RFL trying new things. Some innovations work, others don’t. The key is to know when to admit defeat, and in ClubCall they have a system which is an unnecessary gimmick which only serves to make a complicated play-off system even harder to grasp.
I’m sure, come Sunday, Eddie Hemmings will tell us it leads to more Press for rugby league – that’ll be two-inches in the national press, instead of one, I take it.
But so far the only coverage has centred on Tony Smith, the Warrington coach who has the ‘honour’ of choosing their semi-final opponents, calling for it to be scrapped. He’ll toss a coin to decide, he said.
Hardly the coverage the play-offs needs, at a time when more fans need to be attracted.
And mentioning crowds, something needs to be done by the game’s governing body to attract fans to the most important games of the season. How about an incentive or heavy discount for season-ticket holders, who have to fork out for up to three matches before Grand Final tickets?
Just 4,790 watched the sudden-death showdown between Hull FC and Catalan. It’s embarrassing.
The RFL made a great move by pricing all junior tickets at £5 – but it needs to do more. TV images of packed stands would do more for league’s coverage than ‘ClubCall’ will.
Written off and ridiculed, Shaun Wane harnessed the underdog quality to guide Wigan to a hugely encouraging win last Thursday.
They played the conditions exceptionally and smartly, showing they had the Big Game credentials when the pressure was on.
And now they’re just one win from a Grand Final, and two wins from securing a Cup and League double.
The DreamTeam press release boasted how there were ‘12 Englishmen plus Danny Brough, the Dewsbury-born halfback...’
I know Dewsbury looks like another country, but that takes the biscuit!