Captain’s role decision due

Decision time - Michael Maguire
Decision time - Michael Maguire

MICHAEL Maguire could decide as early as next week whether to re-instate a permanent captain at Wigan for their Super League defence.

Last year he scrapped the tradition of having one skipper, and instead introduced a ‘leadership team’ who shared the captain’s responsibilities.

He is expected to persevere with it this season – but admits he will listen to the senior players before making a decision.

Maguire said: “We’ll assess it in a week or so, and probably make a decision then.

“I want to get the leadership group together and we’ll sit down and decide which way we want to go with that.”

England Test loose forward Sean O’Loughlin – club skipper since 2006 – was one of the five members of the leadership team.

And many believed his career-best form last season was partly owed from reducing the burden of captaining the side on his own.

Vastly-experienced senior players Thomas Leuluai, Phil Bailey, George Carmont and Andy Coley were also appointed to the elite group last season.

When Bailey’s campaign was cut-short by injury, England second-rower Joel Tomkins was promoted to the leadership panel.

They took it in turns in leading the side out onto the pitch and, on match-day, only the ‘captain of the day’ was allowed to speak to the referee.

O’Loughlin had the honour for their 22-10 Grand Final triumph against St Helens.

But they shared the usual skipper’s responsibilities during the week, of maintaining Wigan’s professional culture and work ethic in training – as well as carrying out promotional and media duties.

Bailey is the only player to depart from last season’s leadership team, joining Salford in the off-season.

If Maguire continues with the group, he could replace him with a fellow former Australian Test forward in Ryan Hoffman.

The 26-year-old – one of three winter recruits from Melbourne – was a member of the leadership team at the Storm and has impressed staff with his professional – and vocal – approach.

He also has a wealth of experience, having played in State of Origin games, Test matches and NRL Grand Finals.

Meanwhile, Maguire revealed Brett Finch’s neck operation was a success and said the Australian stand-off is counting down the days until he can play again.

“The operation went well, and he’s been working extremely hard because he’s very keen to play for Wigan,” added Maguire.

“Brett’s a character and the boys have got a good combination with him now – the boys are looking forward to playing alongside him.”