SHAUN Wane reckons Brett Finch’s form will scale even greater heights in the crunch part of the season after confirming his intention to return to the NRL next year.
Wigan’s 12th straight victory last Saturday – a 36-14 win at Catalan – was overshadowed by confirmation that in-form Finch will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.
His decision ends weeks of intense speculation over his future, and despite his good form, Wane reckons the uncertainty has weighed on the playmaker’s mind.
He said: “I’m glad it’s all sorted now, because I know from the conversations we’ve had, that it has been on Brett’s mind a lot.
“Now he’s made his decision, he can concentrate 100 per cent on his performances and I think we’ll see the difference. His form has been fantastic and I think it’ll get even better now.”
Attention will now turn to who may replace the in-form No.6. With Thomas Leuluai heading to New Zealand Warriors, Wigan will have a new halfback pairing in 2013. A deal to bring in Salford’s scrum-half Matty Smith is thought to have been done, leaving Wane scouring the NRL and Super League for a stand-off.
Michael Maguire’s Souths are believed to be leading the chase for Finch. Maguire – who brought the stand-off to Wigan at the start of last year – has already lured Jeff Lima back to the NRL for next season.
Wigan officials insist they did everything they could to keep hold of the former Melbourne, Canberra, Parramatta and Sydney Roosters ace.
But he is thought to be keen on starting a role in the media now before he hangs up the boots.
One of the real characters of the game, Finch was offered a spot on Matthew Johns’ TV show before moving to the Super League.
Rugby general manager Kris Radlinski said: “We offered Brett the contract that he wanted but in the end his desire to return home and plan for his life after the game were too strong.”
Finch said he wanted to make a decision on his career early to give the Warriors time to find a replacement.
“The Wigan club has been fantastic to me and I felt that it was important to sort out my future now so that everyone knew the situation and so that the club could start to make other plans,” he said.
“There are a number of options back home that I find attractive and my life after footy needs to be given consideration.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in England and to play for a club like Wigan has been a dream. The fans have treated me so well and I will be eternally grateful to them for making me feel so welcome.
“I want to finish this season strongly as I am part of a special team and feel that we have every chance of winning more trophies.”