Cronulla Sharks boss Shane Flanagan admitted Wigan deserved the spoils following his side’s 22-6 World Club Challenge defeat at the DW Stadium.
The Sharks fielded 13 members of their Grand Final-winning team and had two tries disallowed but coach had no complaints.
To play in a game like this in front of a crowd so passionate about their rugby league, we’ll come over every yearShane Flanagan
“It was real physical,” Flanagan said. “I thought both sides dug in and had a go, it was a real quality game.
“Wigan took their chances in the first half and we didn’t. They made the best of their opportunities.
“It was a fantastic game, a great crowd, and it was good for us. It was a really good game leading into our season.”
The World Club Series was cut to just two matches this year after a host of NRL clubs declined invitations but Flanagan said he was fully behind the concept and would be happy to “come over every year”.
“It’s fantastic,” he added. “The way we’ve been treated by the organisers and Wigan has been first class, I know all the players have appreciated it.
“To play in a game like this in front of a crowd so passionate about their rugby league, we’ll come over every year.”
Cronulla’s veteran captain Paul Gallen, who had a running battle with referee Robert Hicks throughout the game, also had no complaints about the outcome.
“It was a tough game,” he said. “It was intense from the start. It came down to the first half, when they took their opportunities and we didn’t. There were three or four calls that could have gone our way but the referee had nothing to do with the result.
“I love it over here. I’m really upset about the result, it’s probably the last chance I’ll get to play in this game so it’s disappointing.”
Meanwhile, Flanagan says he is in the dark over the club’s pursuit of Leeds hooker James Segeyaro, who remains in limbo after walking out on the Super League club at the end of last season.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen there,” he said. “If he becomes available, we’ll think about it but at this stage I’m not sure where it’s at.”