'Reserves is critical for survival of rugby league,' says Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam

Adrian Lam cut his coaching teeth with Wigan's second-string side
Adrian Lam cut his coaching teeth with Wigan's second-string side

​Adrian Lam has explained why it is “critical” the reserve competition is revived next season.

A meeting of Super League chief executives has backed a mandatory reserve competition, to begin in 2020, which is expected to be voted through by the Rugby Football League this month.

Lam, who cut his coaching teeth with Wigan’s second-string in 2005, says the proposal needs to get the green light.

“The reserves needs to be alive,” he said. “Without a doubt, I think the game suffers from a lack of reserve competition.

“It’s critical that exists for the survival of rugby league. If it (returns in 2020), that’ll be a positive for the game, and for every club in there.”

The reserves has had several guises, such as A team and Under-21s (with provisions for a few open-age players).

It was scrapped a few years ago in a move which upped the age limit on the academy from 18 to 19 – which will revert back next year under these plans, with a reserves above it.

Currently, the only option for fringe players too old for the U19s is to play on loan or dual-registration for lower-league clubs – but that has presented its own challenges.

Lam said: “I’ll give you an example, Jake Shorrocks. I didn’t play him for the first six or seven weeks, but we couldn’t get him a game (on dual-registration).

“Same with Craig Mullen, if they’re on a little bit of money the clubs won’t take them.”

Mullen did play at League One outfit London Skolars last weekend at Hunslet – and Lam says even then it’s hard for the players to stake a claim for a Wigan spot, while playing elsewhere alongside and against part-time opposition.

“All you can do is try and get him some game fitness,” he said. “At that level of competition you can’t get too much out of it.”

Mullen was one of 10 fringe Wigan players who figured for Championship or League One clubs last weekend and there were others - such as Samy Kibula and Josh Ganson - who didn't play.