The 18th Man Column: How will we tame classy Tigers?

Brett Ferres is shown the yellow card
Brett Ferres is shown the yellow card

His first game back and Oliver Gildart is on the receiving end of a cowardly tackle from Brett Ferres.

It’s disgraceful from a player who I feel has little self control at the best of times – being tough does not mean being dirty. Well his six match ban is nowhere near enough for me and he should be out for the season.

I’m not expecting the two points from this game

David Bailey

I just hope that further down the line his card is marked and some of our team show him what tough really means. Good luck on a speedy recovery Ollie.

Meanwhile Leeds, back to their old game of fast play the balls and forward passes were too much for us as we seemed to concentrate on how best to hobble our chances with errors and ill-discipline. Only a few weeks ago opposing players were allowed to jump up if need be and our defensive line took care of the fall out, but we seem to be frightened of a Leeds onslaught and panicked into allowing them easy yards with delaying tactics throughout the game giving them penalty after penalty.

I can only imagine how stressed Shaun Wane was as he knows better than most what this squad is capable of and we became victims of the rope-a-dope tactics as Leeds knew how we would react. Well it’s a hard lesson in a game which has seen us drop down the table a little, but no trophy was lost and an important lesson was hopefully learned. Stick to our game plan, work hard and win.

This week we are up against the odds again with a Castleford Tigers side red hot and flying due to land at the DW and steal another two points. Unless we step back and play smart then we will likely slip even further down the table. It’s not that we can’t win, we certainly can with a calm head and some decent structure. Stop the penalties, don’t force the errors with wild play and control the game to our pace, we will be back on track in no time.

Darren Wrudd

After losing against Hull the other week, I left feeling full of pride and in a good place. Last week, after losing to Leeds, I left frustrated and really let down.

I don’t want to be too hard on the players, it wasn’t the worst game to lose, and I know we’ll get better. However, the performance was so underwhelming, and we could and should have been so much better. We had countless chances near the Leeds try-line, and struggled to create anything significant.

George Williams has been our best player this season, but even he must be better.

We seemed to make very hard work of the game.

A game in which I thought we had the best of for the majority. Overall, Leeds deserved the win, but we bombed so many chances, with stupid errors, it was unreal.

When we got back to 20-18, with less than 15 minutes to go, I thought we’d do it, and we should have.

Again, there’s no other word to describe it, other than frustrating.

However, the result and performance was not the worst thing to come out of that game with Leeds. Just before half-time, Brett Ferres hit Oliver Gildart with the most disgusting crusher tackle that could’ve ended his career. I’m not being over dramatic here, it was horrible, and there should be a bigger ban than he’s set to be getting.

As of writing this, Ferres has been charged with a Grad E offence, which is four to eight matches.

Gildart looks set to be out for up to three months, and I think Ferres should be made to sit out the same amount of time.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Wigan. They’ve not picked up a win in three now, after a draw and back-to-back defeats.

It doesn’t get any easier for Shaun Wane and his players as they host Castleford Tigers next down at the DW.

With only Liam Farrell and Anthony Gelling looking to return to the side, the squads still looking too weak to be able to cope with the high-flying Tigers. It’s going to be a very tough ask, and I don’t think we can afford

to lose three in a row, not because of the table, but more our own confidence.

Ben Reid

I thought Wigan’s injury crisis last year would be one that we would not see again for a long time, but with what is looking like a serious to Oliver Gildart, along with Farrell and Gelling not expected to play on Thursday night against highflying Castleford – I think this is probably our worst injury crisis since 2003.

We seem to be constantly at a point of players being on the verge of returning, only to have another setback.

Winning the Grand Final last year with the number of injuries we had was an unbelievable achievement and one that a win on Thursday won’t match.

However I think a win on Thursday against the free-scoring Castleford side would be the most unexpected Wigan win since the 2003 Good Friday game against St Helens. On that day, Stuart Raper handed out four debuts and Wigan were 18 – 6 down at one point, and still, somehow won the game 26-24 thanks to Shaun Briscoe and Terry Newton-inspired performance.

Shaun Wane certainly isn’t in the position that he will have to hand out four debuts tonight, however the fact that Wigan have adapted so well to their injuries probably masks over the how deep the injury crisis currently is.

At the moment, we have two brilliant young wingers who have done everything asked of them – but in reality, they are probably the fifth and sixth choice wingers - after Burgess, Manfredi, Tierney and Escare. When you consider that, it really is unbelievable.

Is there another side in Super League, who could field their fifth and sixth choice wingers that would still rip it up in Super League?

I have said this previously in this column that Wigan don’t view injuries as a cause for concern, they view them as opportunities.

Tonight is exactly that, a fantastic opportunity.

It is a game in which we shouldn’t be looking to use our young team as an excuse of an inevitable loss against a team, that is playing very well at the moment and has many people waxing lyrical about – its an opportunity - a fantastic opportunity to show the strength of the Wigan club – not just on the field, but off it.

What a way that would be to go into the Good Friday game against St Helens, with an unexpected win tonight with a set of excellent young players. Let’s get behind whichever 17 we have available and upset the odds!

Sean Lawless

Once again the Warriors came unstuck at Headingley as the Rhinos continued their renaissance and Wigan were left counting the cost of missed chances and errors.

These games are often entertaining and this was no exception with the game only settled with a late try for the Leeds outfit. The Warriors battled bravely particularly the likes of Forsyth and Davies who will be gaining valuable experience throughout this run which should benefit the squad as the season progresses.

Oliver Gildart, back in the side following an injury could once again be out following a horrible-looking crusher tackle by Leeds forward Brett Ferres, and despite Ferres’ apology on social media, he distanced himself from admitting it was a deliberate action, probably hoping it will reduce the punishment for the offence.

Rugby league is a tough game as it is and sometimes players (including Wigan players) lose sight of their duty of care to other professionals.

Hopefully Gildart’s injury isn’t serious and he’s back on the field soon but the only way to eradicate this kind of tackle is to punish the perpetrators heavily.

Rugby is often a game of fine margins, and after last week’s defeat against Hull FC, Wigan coach Shaun Wane rued the absence of the video ref as couple of decisions went against the Warriors, which arguably would have affected the result.

This week, the video ref intervened at a crucial point in the game when referee Ben Thaler sent a “try” upstairs for Nick Gregson with the scores at 16-12 in Leeds favour, Phil Bentham ruled a double movement (correctly I might add) and Leeds went straight up the field and scored to make the score 20-12 rather than 16-16.

Although the correct decision was reached, had this not been a televised game the try would have stood so you can see why the Warriors might feel hard done to, but these things in my opinion even themselves out over the season.

Despite Wigan’s drop from top of the league to fifth after this game, there aren’t too many alarm bells ringing.

But Castleford will be red hot favourites to make it three defeats in a row (and leave Wigan winless in four games) this week.

I will be honest and say that I’m not expecting the two points from this game either, even with the expected return of a couple more players from injury.

Cas just have the confidence and form at the moment and have had very little disruption to their squad, here’s hoping once again Wane can prove the doubters wrong.

David Bailey