Shaun Wane says he couldn’t be happier with his “top drawer” assistant coach.
The Warriors are deep into pre-season training ahead of the start of their Super League defence on February 11.
Wane has only one assistant coach, John Winder – fewer than most of his rivals.
But he says his No.2 is very-much an unsung hero of their success in recent seasons - they have reached the last four Grand Finals, winning two including last October’s title-decider against Warrington.
Wane said: “John has a massive influence on our team. He is a really smart coach - as smart as anyone.
“I think he’s top drawer, and he was a massive part of our Grand Final success last year.”
Cumbrian Winder started with a community role at Wigan and had a spell at Melbourne Storm, before following Michael Maguire over to the Warriors.
“He’s been in a great system at Melbourne, working with Madge and Craig Bellamy, and before that he worked in a community role with every-day people, and that’s taught him a lot,” said Wane.
“I learned more about managing people from my time at Tarmac than from any coaching course.
“He knows the game inside out, he’s an extremely good coach - just because he’s not played at the highest level doesn’t mean anything, because he’s as smart as anyone.”
While Wane no longer has a second assistant coach - following Paul Deacon’s move to Sale Sharks RU 18 months ago - he leans on performance director Mark Bitcon, head of sports science and analysis Mark Quinn as well as a clutch of junior coaches.
Explaining Quinn’s involvement, Wane said: “We talk a lot about looking for the one per centers here, and Quinny is really important on that front.
“He trawls through the stats and the footage, just looking for areas we can gain an advantage. For example, if a full-back has a strong right-hand fend, it influences which side we kick to, and they’re the areas which often don’t get noticed but they have a huge impact.”