Dom Manfredi would have played in my England team, says Shaun Wane
Shaun Wane has added his tribute to Dom Manfredi after the winger announced he will retire from playing at the end of the year.
The 27-year-old, currently sidelined with a knee problem, has been medically advised to call time on his playing career due to injury.
Wane gave him his debut as Wigan coach and showed faith in bringing him back into his team for their Grand Final charge – after nearly 18 months out – back in 2018, to see Manfredi become the two-try hero.
And having coached England last weekend for the first time, Wane admits Manfredi would have been in his side if he hadn’t been sidelined.
“He would have played for me last week, without a question,” said Wane.
“If he’s playing right now and I’m picking an England side, he’s in there.
"When he decided to retire he phoned me out of respect, which I was really touched by, but he didn’t need to do that.
“He says I did a lot for him but in truth, when I first watched him play, he stood out a mile. Every coach looks for different things but I think any coach in my position would have picked him, he was that good.
“He’s a good finisher, a good defender and a devastating ball-carrier. When I think back of all the games I’ve coached with Dom or seen him play, I can’t remember one bad game he’s played.
“And for a winger – a position which is very exposed – it’s rare that you can say that.”
Three knee reconstructions in five years, as well as other issues, limited Manfredi to just 82 appearances for Wigan, from which he has scored 57 tries.
“When a player is out and they’re coming in, seeing their team-mates training and preparing for games, it’s mentally destroying at the best of times,” said Wane.
“For Dom, to do it for so long, I can’t imagine how hard he had it.”
Wane’s Wigan successor, Adrian Lam said despite the disruptions to his career Manfredi can reflect with pride on his achievements.
“I don’t want to have the emotion of feeling sorry for him because of the games he could have played, I want to be happy for him that he’s pulled on the Wigan jersey, had the success he’s had and earned the respect of team-mates and opponents,” said Lam, who is also the Australia assistant coach.
“And he’s still got some more rugby to give to us. His biggest strength is – and you can ask anyone who defends against him – the power of his carries. He runs the ball back harder than anyone in Super League and potentially the world – that’s his greatest asset.”
Centre Oliver Gildart has loved playing alongside Manfredi - but hates training against him!
He said: “A lot of people have said he’s one of the best wingers, if not the best, to have played with and I’ll back that 100 per cent.
“He’s probably the hardest person to tackle. He’s awkward and weirdly strong – he’s not the biggest winger but he’s as strong as anyone. He carries the ball back like no other else.
“His downfall may have been how tough he is, because he’s doesn’t have an off button. He is full-on and some times in training you have to tell him to chill out. As much as I love playing alongside him I hate training against him, because he’s so full-on!”
Manfredi was the two-try hero in Wigan’s Grand Final win in 2018 and Gildart thought he, rather than Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford, should have won the Harry Sunderland Award.
“I thought he was man of the match, people remember the two tries but I remember the tackle on Tim Lineham when he bust his face open,” said Gildart.
“ It’s sad that he’s having to retire but he’s had a great career and he’s not done yet, hopefully we can have more success this year.”
Winger Liam Marshall said: “He’s been so unfortunate but you’ll not find a more mentally tough bloke. He’s a massive part of this club, everyone loves him, when he’s playing you have that extra bit of confidence because he’s no regard for his body, he puts his body on the line every week.
“Personally, I’ve just come back from a knee injury and he’s written the book on that, he’s really helped me out massively.
“Everyone needs to get behind him and give him the support because it’s a big decision to make as a 27-year-old.”