The 18th man column: 'Wigan Warriors looked lost against London Broncos'

Our 18th man columnists discuss Wigan's form and the return of Great Britain...

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 6:32 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 7:38 am
Liam Paisley opened the scoring at London
Liam Paisley opened the scoring at London

Wigan lost at London – are you concerned?

Sean Lawless: The game at London was poor beyond recognition. At the moment Wigan look blunt and changing the spine of the team for a third week in a row on Sunday didn’t help. Players looked lost out on the field and were lacking leadership, desire and any attacking spark.

My biggest concern from the game was how quickly Wigan lost confidence. The game was there for the taking and as soon as London took the lead,

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Wigan looked scared and panicked. A calming influence was needed but it never arrived, a very concerning defeat.

Robert Kenyon: I’m glad we are getting these out of our system early in the season, if we can use it as a learning curve then it’s no concern, it’s only if players don’t then it does.

I was prepared for a few losses with the overhaul of the teams game plan, we are trying to go from a team based on aggression, toughness and hard work with orchestrated attacking plays that require discipline rather than guile or nous to trying to play good rugby, it will take time and some players won’t fit that mould, so we will struggle because the old boring style of play suited some players and we will struggle as a result.

Plus our most attack minded player having his head turned from the NRL won’t help. At the end of the day, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Darren Wrudd: Concerned? No, not really. You don’t become a poor side over a closed season and it is more than the loss of three top players would suggest.

In between the losses or snatched dropped balls and so on, there are some good things happening and anyone who calls for emergency changes in players or coaches at this stage does not really understand the process. I can understand the reactionary notion that something needs to change, but that’s why we are stuttering, because things ARE changing. Adrian Lam has a brilliant understanding of the modern game and the experience needed to pull this off.

As a Wigan supporter, it is my remit to support and I will do that the best way that I know how. By backing the squad to settle down and start to put points in the bank.

Jeanette Lusher: I was certainly disappointed as this was a game with many opportunities afforded to secure a win.

Ill-discipline, penalties and poor defence cost us dear. We were out enthused by London who defended valiantly and deployed far better kicking options.

The Wigan lads always seem to struggle on an artificial pitch and certainly the weather conditions were atrocious. I appreciate that it was the same for both sides and London did adapt better. On the positive side it was great to see young Paisley and Partington go so well and especially for Liam to get his try.

As yet I am not concerned for time is needed to blend new players, a new coach and new systems plus the loss of Greenwood, Hamlin, Marshall and Ben Flower rested was always going to make this game exceptionally tough!

Whilst all does seem doom and gloom we must keep perspective in that each Super League defeat has been narrow and could have easily gone the other way. The season is a long one and we have yet to put out our top 17. The return of players such as Dom Manfredi can only better the cause. We just all need to stay positive and to get behind the club, the coach and most of all the lads!

Jon Lyon: The most concerning aspect of Wigan’s form is the negativity of fans.

Adrian Lam said we would have a slow start while he beds his ideas in and we have, but if Hardaker had converted the last minute kick against Hull and Escare taken Williams’ pass against London all could be so different. We showed against Sydney what we can do, and we still have some dangerous attacking players to come back, Farrell, Manfredi, Burgess and Greenwood are huge misses for our team.

Individuals need to take responsibility for one on one defensive misses, but the fans need to play their part too.

How can we complain if half the players don’t show up when only half the fans turned up against Hull that were there against Sydney the week before?

If we are supporters then lets support the team, not call for the coaches head after a few games. Negativity passes onto the players and increases the pressure on them, we need to be loud and proud and do what we can for the team.

Is it too soon to describe tomorrow’s game against Huddersfield as a ‘must-win’?

Sean Lawless: The Huddersfield game, when you look at the context of the fixtures that Wigan have coming up, it is a big fixture and labelling it as a ‘must-win’ isn’t far from the truth. A win for Wigan and the two points back from the appeal and we are looking like top five challengers from relegation scrappers in less than a week.

That is the type of shot in the arm we need at the moment and with big games coming thick and fast, we need a consistent team with a team plan. I am confident that we will start to see both very soon.

Robert Kenyon: ​After the losses to Hull and London winning this game will provide a little relief especially with the two added points, it may ease a bit of tension within the club, this may inspire confidence for us to play good rugby but we still need to toughen up our defensive efforts too.

Huddersfield will be looking at claiming their first scalp too, the pressure is on them too, a third loss on the bounce could derail our season. We have home advantage so theoretically it should be harder for Huddersfield, all their travelling support will have a bad ride home on their motorbike come Friday with a bit of luck.

Darren Wrudd: I don’t really get this. Every game must be seen as a must win. If you are top of the league, 10 points clear and want to go into the playoffs winning, then that last game is a must win. It is that attitude that gives some other teams the edge sometimes as we seem to go to sleep half way through a game instead of pushing to put a big score on.

It won’t be the end of our year if Huddersfield take the points, but if we don’t at least look like we are fighting for them, questions will be asked.

Personally, I think we are one great performance away from a charge and this could very well be it.

Jeanette Lusher: For sure the pressure is on to secure a win against Huddersfield but it is hardly a must win. Wigan is adjusting to a new way of play and each match this season has seen lengthy spells of domination and control but alas also periods of ill discipline, poor defence and rustiness in timing.

The Wigan lads are very honest and certainly know what needs to be done to secure a win and the return of Flower, Greenwood and Hamlin are powerful indicators that all will be rectified. The lads will afford respect to Huddersfield knowing how desperately they too are seeking the two points. The team needs to put in a well disciplined 80 minute performance and the supporters need to keep the faith and get behind the lads!

Jon Lyon: With the league as open as it is this season, all teams will have a bad patch and will lose a few games. More than the result we need to see a much more enthusiastic performance.

Defensively we need to act as more of a unit and offensively we need to offer more options for Williams.

We shouldn’t be panicking after four games, but Lam must have a number of games in mind we can afford to lose to make the play offs and we don’t want to edge too much closer to that number. Leeds and Huddersfield have found out in recent times how hard it is to stop the momentum of poor performances and results.

Great Britain is back – are you happy about it?

Sean Lawless: I love the idea of a Great Britain tour but it is such a massive shame that we will not see them play Australia.

The tour looks good and should present a good test for Great Britain, the biggest questions will be how does Wayne Bennett approach his selection.

Token players from the other nations are perhaps important to the legitimacy of the tour but selfishly, will the intention for Wayne Bennett be to work on improving his England side?

Realistically, who would get in the side from the other nations? Lachlan Coote, Danny Brough, Ben Flower – I am not too sure that they are players to be selected over the current England stars.

Robert Kenyon: I’m glad it’s back, it should never have gone away. If I’m right it was so that the sport could receive funding from Sport England but once we changed they stopped that funding, something like that anyway.

I would love to see the Aussies come and tour like they used to, play GB in a three test ashes series with games against Lancashire at the DW and Yorkshire at Headingley on the Wednesday nights between the Saturday tests at Old Trafford, Anfield and Elland Road.

Darren Wrudd: Bringing Great Britain back is a great idea or a disaster, depending where you stand.

As an England fringe player, you might just be pushed out but as a top player who headlines a mediocre Welsh, Scottish or Irish side, you may get the chance you have waited for and play on the big stage. Personally I love the idea.

At a time when we need to stand together under the Great Britain banner, it will give a new perspective on one nation. Bring it on, I can’t wait to cheer them on.

Jeanette Lusher: Absolutely marvellous! The best of the best from the four home nations brought together under the Great Britain banner! It is surely the pinnacle for any current rugby league player for what greater honour than to pull on the Great Britain jersey?

It’s such a mouth watering prospect to be facing New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the ever rising Tongan team! The 2019 international calendar with this GB tour, the Oceania Cup and the World Cup Nines will surely raise the profile of rugby league in this country and will be a good forerunner to the RL World Cup in 2021.

Jon Lyon: I am excited to see the iconic Great Britain shirt back on show. I grew up watching the Lions from 1986 onwards and though results haven’t always been what we’ve hoped for there was always something special about watching Great Britain.

Hopefully we can add to the wonderful memories such as Joe Lydon skinning Garry Jack in 1986, Henderson Gill’s “bit of a boogie” and Mike Gregory’s try in 1988 and the 33-10 demolition of the Aussies down under in 1992.

Truthfully though, the team is likely to be no different to the last England side, with only Ben Flower, Morgan Knowles and possible Regan Grace with any chance of making the GB squad from the other home nations.

I hope we resist the chance to call up the likes of Jackson Hastings, Blake Austin and Lachlan Coote. We need to promote our own talent rather than borrow from other countries.