EXCLUSIVE: Lenagan talks Super 8s, Super League and Shaun Wane - part 1

Ian Lenagan
Ian Lenagan
  • Warriors owner criticised the Super-8s format and called Hull KR’s relegation “atrocious”
  • Blamed funding changing for “dumbing down” Super League this year
  • Praised Shaun Wane for overcoming a form slump to guide his men to Old Trafford

Ian Lenagan has raised the possibility of Wigan heading to Australia next February to face NRL opposition.

But he has grown frustrated with the uncertainty over the World Club Series fixtures.

For the past two seasons, the World Club Challenge - between the NRL and Super League champions - has been preceded by two other games between teams from each hemisphere, forming a three-match Series.

If Wigan overcome Warrington at Old Trafford this Saturday it’s likely they will host Cronulla Sharks, who beat Melbourne Storm to win the Grand Final in Sydney.

But if they lose, they could be heading back Down Under as they did for the WCC in 2014 - or they could miss out altogether, if the series is cut to two matches and Challenge Cup winners Hull FC are involved instead.

“If it’s three games we’ll be playing,” said Lenagan. “The Australians don’t want three matches, they want two. It’s not a satisfactory place.

We want to play in Australia - but we’d rather win the Grand Final and be hosting Cronulla

Ian Lenagan

“If we win (the Grand Final), contractually I think we have to be here. If we lose, and we’re involved, there’s a degree of freedom.

“We want to play in Australia - but we’d rather win the Grand Final and be hosting Cronulla,

“The World Club is discussed endlessly but the problem is we’re too late in the day, aren’t we?

“It’s crazy, you’re talking about games in February, now.

“Rugby league has to have a long term view, and it hasn’t got it currently.”

The uncertainty over the World Club format is just one issue which Lenagan discussed with Rugby Foootball League chief executive Nigel Wood last Friday.

“He understands the problem - whether he and his board can sort them all out, I don’t know,” he added.

Lenagan was a critic of the Super 8s model before it was introduced at the start of last year.

Under the convoluted system, the Super League splits after 23 rounds, and as the top-eight battle it out over seven more rounds for semi-final spots, the bottom-four are forced to fight for their futures against the best four clubs from the Championship.

This year’s Qualifiers came to a dramatic conclusion last Saturday when Salford won a dramatic Million Pound Game to relegate Hull KR.

“I don’t like (the current system) at all, but I think we need to stick it out for the three years,” he said, nodding to the initial pledge to review the structure at the end of the 2017 campaign.

“I was public in saying beforehand that I don’t like this structure. I think the fact that Hull KR, who weren’t bottom of the league, have now been relegated is atrocious.

“The fact Leigh didn’t get promoted earlier was poor.

“The biggest problem I’ve got is now the whole season seems to be getting ready for a play-off - and the play-off is a seven-match play-off, followed by a two-match play-off.

“And I think a lot of supporters are rightly saying, ‘This doesn’t make a lot of sense’.”

And the Wigan chairman says Super League has been ‘dumbed down’ by increased funding to the Championship.

He believes extra money funneled into the Championship in the last two years, to try and close the gap between the divisions, would have been better spent in Super League.

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