Talking Sport - A glimpse inside Wane’s World

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson
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LAST week, Shaun Wane let me sit in and observe their video review of the previous Friday’s St Helens game.

Wane was every bit as intense as I imagined, but he also revealed a shrewd rugby league brain, picking apart moves and passages with a pathologist’s scrutiny.

It was fascinating. And not just because of the attention to detail – but by the attitude of the players.

I imagined they would have been deeply embarrassed and sheepish, having their errors highlighted in front of their peers.

For many, a ticking off from the boss would be followed by a lame excuse to deflect the blame or explain why it happened. But they were receptive and frank.

“And that,” Wane later explained, “is because they want to get better. That’s how you win trophies.”

THE pleasing thing from last Saturday wasn’t that Wigan won, but the way they did it.

So often in the past, we’ve watched teams reach a point when the result is not in doubt – when they know they have done enough – and then cruise through to the final whistle.

But Shaun Wane doesn’t want that, and the fans – hundreds spent their time and money travelling to London – don’t want it either. The fact the Warriors finished stronger against the Broncos owed as much to their desire as the fading enthusiasm of their opponents.

This Saturday they face a tough test, against a Catalan side who have lost just once at home this year – against Leeds back in February.

There’s no reason why Wigan can’t go there and do a job, if they can maintain their form from last weekend.

No matter how you look at it, they have an under-whelming couple of months ahead.

Having butchered London, of Wigan’s next five opponents, the Dragons are the only one in the top-eight.

The week after that run, they face Widnes. Given Wigan are now just two points from the top-spot, an ascent up the ladder should be on the cards.

And when you consider that key players such as Mike McIlorum and Blake Green should be returning from injury towards the back end of that run, the indications are they could be in for a successful run towards the play-offs and beyond.

FORGET Messi and the fabulously-named Hulk... this has been a World Cup for goalkeepers.

Tim Howard typified their skill and athleticism for America, but the trait I admire the most is their honesty.

When Brazil’s brilliant Neymar went down like he had been shot, I can’t have been the only one who hurled abuse at the TV, presuming he was acting.

And yes, I felt bad when I later heard his injury was real. Hopefully he makes a swift recovery.

But the players themselves fuel such cynicism by throwing themselves at the floor too easily, too frequently.

Not keepers.

They stand in the way of rockets being fired in their direction ... and hope their body gets hit, rather than the back of the net.

They’re the most honest of the footballers. And the bravest.

And I, for one, salute them.