Comment: Why Wane will be missed

Shaun Wane has left a huge impression on his hometown club
Shaun Wane has left a huge impression on his hometown club

Wigan without Shaun Wane.

It doesn’t sound right, does it?

Shaun Wane has won two Grand Finals as Wigan coach

Shaun Wane has won two Grand Finals as Wigan coach

Like Match of the Day without Lineker, Guns ‘n Roses without Slash, gin without tonic, a curry without a Cobra... you get the drift. He is, to many, Mr Wigan.

He served the club as a player, scout, and youth coach before becoming a part of the first-team set-up.

He endeared himself to the Wigan fans early.

When Michael Maguire imposed a drinking ban in the 2010 Grand Final charge, Wane joked he was 14 the last time he had gone so long without a beer!

And when he achieved his dream - coaching his hometown club - he became popular Wigan fans with success on the pitch... as well as a remark about the “hatred” for St Helens!

An early misconception was that he was just a motivator. He quickly proved he was no one-trick pony, a point chairman Ian Lenagan nodded to in his tribute when he said he had “exceptional technical, tactical and player-motivational skills and a fearsome winning mentality.”

That mentality can be seen during matches - He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve as much as on his face! - and his comments afterwards.

Even after Saturday’s 38-10 win against Warrington, he was pointing out flaws, clipping his praise.

All part of the constant quest to ‘make your best, better’.

Over the years, the jibes have dried up, but he has remained candid and honest, and good company.

And he has remained successful.
This being Wigan and this being sport, there have been critics – mainly about their style of play.

But their bright start to this season gives weight to Wane’s claim that their previous, unattractive play was down to crippling injury-lists.

Ironically, the season which drew the most criticism from fans - last year - was what he will be remembered for the most, because of the monumental achievement of winning the World Club Challenge.

It was the club’s first victory in the annual battle with the Aussie champions since the epic match in Brisbane in 1994.

By any measure, Wane’s been a success.

He has already won a league leaders’ shield, a Challenge Cup, two Grand Finals and a World Club Challenge - as well as making three finals - and they are well-positioned to have a crack at three trophies this year.

But I also admire the way he has brought young players through into the side.

When Blake Green left, he had the option of recruiting a halfback. Instead, he handed young George Williams the No.6 shirt.

When Pat Richards ended his eight-year stay, he put his faith in a teenager with one first-team appearance to his name - Joe Burgess.

He has made signings, too, and has taken great satisfaction from the success with his ‘project’ players - Ben Flower and Anthony Gelling were obvious success stories - and also propelling more-established players to greater heights, such as Tony Clubb, Willie Isa and John Bateman.

The indications are Wane has something already lined up. A new challenge, he says. A new direction. His success, and style, have clearly not gone unnoticed.

As for Wigan, Lenagan previously said Maguire was needed to bring the club glory, and Wane to continue it. To keep them on that path. Certainly, their continued success, and all the rumblings from players and staff, are that they do not need an overhaul, but someone to maintain their standards and practises – making their decision on his successor an intriguing one.

Wane’s time at Wigan is nearly up.

Nearly.

“I have one last task to complete,” he said in his statement, released at 9.30am this morning. “And that is to bring home as much silverware as possible this season.”

He will be missed.