The 18th man column: '˜Wigan legend Shaun Edwards will revolutionise how Super League is played'
Our 18th man columnists discuss the twin appointment of Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards, the table and cheap Challenge Cup final tickets...
Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards were unveiled as Wigan’s future coaches – what did you make of it all?
Sean Lawless: The whole event was fantastic, from the teasing tweets through to the grand press conference. It is a dream partnership for most Wigan fans, if not an unusual arrangement. Waiting a year for Shaun Edwards is in a way, frustrating but at the same time admiral from his part that he wants to finish what he has started in Cardiff; that and the trip to Japan for the Rugby Union World Cup! Great appointments announced in a wonderful way.
Robert Kenyon: I think both appointments are fantastic, I just wonder where Lam fits in after 12 months, that’s all. If he’s fantastic he gets a decent assistant role in the NRL, if he’s average then I suppose he may stay on as assistant. It’s something I called a few months ago, I would have liked Lam involved in the current set up as I reckon we would see better rugby.
I believe next year, should George Williams still be here, he will be back to his best. I watched Lachlan Lam play for PNG in the World Cup and he was great to watch, let’s hope Lammy brings him with him, even it be for a season to gain experience.
I’m made up Shaun Edwards has come home, people are commenting on his time away from the game. What a load of rubbish, the fact that he’s been involved in union at the highest level will bring a completely new dimension and if I’m honest, I reckon Edwards may change the way Super League is played in the same way Maguire did in 2010. I’ve not been this happy and optimistic about the club for a good while, I see us playing some good rugby under Lam and Edwards taking us even further.
I was told as a kid that Shaun’s dad used to write notes for him to do certain things during a game, I’ve seen him twice in as many weeks at games taking notes, during the Golden Point programme he had a piece of paper in his hand and he was taking notes. He’s always thinking, always trying to get better, always looking for new ways and ideas and let’s be honest, he as good as coached the team in the early 90s. He’s a man with a plan, a hunger and will to win. Mark my words, Shaun Edwards will revolutionise the way the game is played in this country or at least allow our team to play intelligent free flowing and confident rugby.
Darren Wrudd: Well we all know that Mr Lenagan loves a bit of theatre, with the countdown to the big reveal and the website almost crashing with the interest, along comes a bombshell that the two front runners have both landed the job! Brilliant really as my only argument against Shaun Edwards was his lack of involvement in the game.
He has been away in union for so long and this will give him a huge chance to get back up to speed, should he need it. One thing for sure is that if he can bring half as much as a coach as he did as a player, happy days!
Adrian Lam was for the few years he was here, a fantastic half-back. A great kicking game with amazing awareness of the field of play he could bring that final part of the jigsaw that we are often missing. Our halves could blossom with such input. All in all and odd way to appoint the next two coaches, but a master class in business management.
Ben Reid: I thought it was a great moment in what has been a rather dark season for Wigan fans. Ever since the departure of Shaun Wane was officially confirmed by the club, Wigan fans have been somewhat
downbeat about the remainder of the 2018 season. We definitely needed a huge pick me up, and the news about our new coach(es) did the trick.
It was no secret of the names who were mentioned to be taking over the reins of Wane – names that excited, dumbfounded and downright worried Wigan fans alike. I had no particular favourite to be our new coach, I was just excited for a new start, new regime and a new look Wigan in 2019.
Once the names of Lam and Edwards was announced, it certainly lifted the fanbase moral tenfold. I think the way they’re working it with Lam for 2019, and then Edwards there on out is brilliant. It’ll be interesting to see how Lam does next season, and more importantly how he leaves the side for Edwards in 2020. Exciting times ahead at Wigan, and I for one cannot wait.
Jon Lyon: The appointment of Adrian Lam as an interim coach is unusual, and there are questions to be answered if he does extremely well.
Presumably he is happy to have the chance to be a head coach earlier than he may have in the NRL.
If Lammy is happy then so are the Wigan fans. Both men are iconic figures at the club, and it seems from the outside that Lenagan and Radlinski have gone for and got both of their targets, so a huge well done to them. Both men have spoken passionately about wanting to play an attacking style, which is music to every fan’s ears. Let’s hope they don’t neglect the defence though, as that is what has made Shaun Wane’s teams so successful.
As exciting as next season is looking, we also need to show respect to Shaun Wane and focus on what we can still achieve this year.
Wigan head to Catalans three points clear of Wire and Cas’ – nailed on for second spot?
Sean Lawless: Wigan have one foot in a home semi-final, I wouldn’t like to say they are nailed on because this is Wigan we are talking about! Wigan should win their home games but trips to St Helens and the resurgent Huddersfield ensure that it isn’t confirmed quite yet. I do expect Wigan to finish second and if that is the case, I would also very much like Warrington to secure fourth, it would be nice to see them and Saints slug it out for a place in the Grand Final rather than them coming to the DW to play us for the fifth time in 2018!
Robert Kenyon: Absolutely not, Luke Gale will be back shortly for Castleford and despite Warrington having the Challenge Cup Final on their minds they are still a top team and dangerous. We have some tough games with Saints away being one of them, Warrington at home and finishing with Hull FC at home.
We do have the three point cushion but that could easily disappear, after watching the game on Friday we look to have the bit between our teeth, I’m confident we can finish second.
Darren Wrudd: There is a long way to go to secure second spot yet. Only a fool would suggest that we are safe with a three point lead and another six games up for grabs. With the top four pretty much settled, the lower teams have nothing to lose and can play with a freedom which they have not seen all year. The pressure is all on the top four and I can see a couple of upsets on the horizon.
Ben Reid: I would say so. Not just because we are three points clear, I just feel we will be more consistent over the next few weeks. We’ve already beaten Castleford, and now only Warrington who can make point son us. The other games around it are all winnable and a win this Saturday will be a huge boost going into a Challenge Cup break.
We will be playing what I believe will be a weakened Catalan side this week. I don’t want to jinx it and say a guaranteed two points, but we give ourselves a real good chance of strengthening our lead in second. Plus, with Castleford and Warrington playing each other this week, somebody is bound to lose ground.
We’ve not had the greatest of seasons, yet still sit in second, with a great chance of a home play-off game. It will be a tight run in, but one that I feel we will come out on top of the three sides below runaway leaders St Helens.
Jon Lyon: Definitely not nailed on. The win against Cas was shaky but vital, yet as results have already shown in the Super 8’s and Qualifiers, there will be shocks aplenty to come. We are fortunate to play away at Catalans the week before Wembley, and I’m hoping they rest their entire team including the tea ladies, all help is most welcome.
Was the RFL right to offer £50 Challenge Cup Final tickets for £15 on Groupon?
Sean Lawless: In the case of the RFL, there are damned if they do and damned if they don’t in this case. Although I am very happy that Catalans have made Wembley, it has become a bit of a nightmare for the sport to ensure that there is a decent crowd. The difficulty comes for the RFL in that they have set a dangerous precedent that you can imagine won’t be followed if the 2019 final is say a, Wigan v St Helens one.
Robert Kenyon: I see it as a double edged sword, you’ll have more fans and maybe a new clientele but on the flip side you’ll have a poor atmosphere and the realisation that the competition is on is in dire need of more support.
To sort it out the RFL need to move it back to May. At the end of August people with kids are buying them school uniform, or going on holiday or making the most of the last Bank Holiday weekend. If it’s in May, it’s earlier in the year so it will be the first major event on the calendar, something for people to look forward to in the dark months.
The RFL need to liaise more with community clubs to get them down to Wembley, maybe discount the coaches.
They could also have a Cup Final just before as a curtain raiser for the lower leagues, like a League Cup Final similar to the Johstones Paint Trophy in Football. That would be a way of making sure more folk attend, or even scrap the World Club Challenge and have an NRL team enter the Challenge Cup (Maybe the Grand Final winner). Or allow Eddie and Barry Hearns Matchroom promote the competition.
Darren Wrudd: I won’t be at the Cup Final myself, but I know many who book as soon as the tickets go out for sale and go every year. The RFL as short sighted as they are, have shunned all the loyal supporters in an ill-thought out promotion to try to fill out the crowd numbers. Perhaps a little thought would have had them initially offer to anyone who has a ticket already, a free upgrade to that area.
Then offers on the cheaper tickets to be resold. But what they tout as a generous gesture is actually just another way that they bumble through the sport not really knowing what they are doing and all the time managing to get it ever so slightly wrong.
Ben Reid: I honestly do not understand the outrage. I for one believe the RFL have done the correct thing here, and should face no backlash from its fans, because they chose to buy their tickets early doors. It’s only like shops who have a Boxing Day sale, or Black Friday. You wouldn’t go to town the night before the sale and purchase loads of clothes. You’d wait the extra day and get it on a discount. I know people weren’t made aware they’d go on sale, and that’s the difference in my analogy. However it’s a good business decision by the RFL, one that has worked, and they have sold more tickets.
Jon Lyon: I can understand fans who have already bought full price tickets in advance being a bit miffed, but that’s the chance you take, like many events. Next year people may wait for an offer, but what if it doesn’t come and they can’t sit where they want or get large groups of seats together.
It’s easy to be critical of this idea as a last minute panic, but the tickets sold through Groupon seem to be the only lower tier presumably at the Catalans end, so it’s not a full fire sale of all tickets. It seems to be specifically those which will be shown on television the most, so it is a good idea to make the ground look fuller than perhaps it will end up being. If the RFL hadn’t done this questions would have been asked after the final why we didn’t do something to sell more tickets. They really can’t win sometimes.