Talking RL: Interest in how they move on

Of course I'm interested in what went on last Friday.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 1:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 3:43 pm
Wigan coach Shaun Wane

Wigan are investigating, the police are investigating, and everyone else is left to hear and read all sorts of rumours and speculation.

Some, I imagine, are true.

Others, I know, aren’t: “Lenagan was at Orrell” (he’s actually in France), “Radlinski was in Starbucks with...” (he’s in Australia), “Such-a-body needed a plate inserting after a broken jaw” (by chance, I saw said player outside the Co-op...munching on a baguette!).

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But all these rumours highlight why Wigan would be well-advised to release details as soon as they can, about both what happened and what action has been taken. The fact the Warriors have named an unchanged 19-man squad for tomorrow’s game at Salford suggests no player has been suspended as a disciplinary measure – although it’s worth remembering changes can be made before kick-off on Friday.

Clearly, something went on.

It seems at least one player let himself and his club down massively, which would be a shame.

But I find myself more interested in what happens next.

Will this be something which is dealt with, apologised for, and moved on from? Or will it prove a distraction? Will it impact on the culture and team-spirit which Wigan work so hard to create?

We’ll no doubt have a better idea tomorrow night.

One rumour which is gathering pace is the one linking Thomas Leuluai with a return to the club.

He’s had no shortage of interest, with Hull FC and St Helens - both in the hunt for a halfback - keeping tabs on the 30-year-old.

But Leuluai has a strong affinity with the Cherry and Whites after six years at the club. He also returned last summer for a spell, helping out in the coaching office as he recovered from a season-ending leg injury.

Leuluai can play both halfback and hooker well.

Wigan, of course, don’t need either.

Matty Smith, George Williams, Micky McIlorum and Sam Powell are all under long-term deals.

Three of them are England internationals. The fourth - Powell - has been in terrific form recently.

But that’s the thing about Wigan - if they see a player who can strengthen their squad, they’ll make a move, even if there’s no obvious gap. When Wigan won the double in 2013, they weren’t exactly crying out for a back-rower, but still they went and brought in John Bateman. Then, a few months later, Joel Tomkins.

When Dan Sarginson signed, several asked: “Where’s he going to play?”

But it’s for the players involved to answer that question for Shaun Wane.

Leuluai overcame a slow start to become a firm fans’ favourite at Wigan. He won man of the match in the 2010 Grand Final, the game which cemented the club’s return to the top after several lean years. Personally, I thought he played even better the following year in the Challenge Cup Final. It would be a real coup by Shaun Wane if he can get him back on board.

Dom Manfredi aside, players can be accused of lacking character and giving boring answers in TV interviews.

Especially in the NRL.

Especially after big-games.

Step forward Sam Thaiday to blow that theory out the water after the State of Origin opener yesterday.

Sideline reporter Brad Fittler: “How was that Sam?”

Thaiday: “It was a bit like losing your virginity. It wasn’t nice but we got the job done.”

Fittler: “I’m not sure I’ve got a second question.”

Pre-purchased tickets for Wigan’s games at Hull KR are just £10 for members - what a great move.

The fans have given the Warriors plenty of support on the road and, into a block of away games, it’s a nice gesture by the clubs involved.