Talking Sport - Wane’s experience brings optimism

Phil Wilkinson

Phil Wilkinson

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THERE’S one key difference between a newly qualified pilot and a veteran. Experience.

When everything is going smoothly, it’s impossible to tell the difference. But when a plane hits turbulence, there’s no question who you want in charge, right?

The guy who has been there, done it, and used the T-shirts to decorate in.

Well, it’s the same with Super League. And as we get ready for the turbulence of a play-offs series, it’s comforting to know Wigan are not controlled by a rookie.

When the pressure is on, Wane’s experience comes to the fore – even when his side is 14 points down, like they were against Warrington last Thursday.

He doesn’t panic. He mends on the go. He thrives with the pressure.

And the most impartial observers – the bookmakers – agree.

Of the eight teams, only three coaches have won a Grand Final – Shaun Wane, Brian McDermott and Tony Smith.

And who are the favourites to win the Super League title? In order: Wigan, Leeds and Warrington.

Even though the latter two sit outside the top-four!

All the teams have talent, for sure, and this series should be exciting across the board.

But, with Wane at the helm, Wigan fans have every right to be optimistic.

THE finesse of Josh Charnley and Joe Burgess, and the inspiration of Sean O’Loughlin, have deservedly taken the plaudits over the past two weeks.

But Welshman Ben Flower deserves plenty of credit, too. He’s slowly become the type of barrel-chested, hard-whacking, bulletproof-looking front-rower everyone wants in their team.

ST HELENS did a good job of staging the play-offs launch this week. The only trouble was, fans were queuing outside to buy tickets – meaning Shaun Wane and co had to run a gauntlet of ‘banter’ from the Red Vee brigade to get in!

JOURNALISTS tend not to criticise the DreamTeam for one simple reason – they pick it.

A secret ballot decides the fictitious XIII, which for two years straight has not featured an overseas player. Is that a reflection of Super League’s increased inability to attract the NRL’s best stars?

IT’LL be a subdued Saturday for Latics fans this weekend.

They’ll be able to cast an eye over others as their results come in before taking on Ipswich next Monday.

Latics are unbeaten at home so far – in contrast to their fortunes on the road.

Like Wigan, Ipswich have had a slightly less than impressive start but both sides are expected to finish at the top end of the table – pointing to a good night.

THERE’S nothing quite like praise from your captain ... most of the time.

Widnes’ Jon Clarke took to Twitter this week to congratulate Kevin Brown – and poke fun: “Well done... he’s been head and neck above all other halves this season!”