'˜I would love Owen Farrell to join Wigan Warriors' - the 18th man column
Our 18th man columnists pick their highlights of 2018 '“ and reveal who their dream signing would be...
2018 – enjoy it?
Sean Lawless: It wasn’t bad was it, let’s be honest? Whether it be on the field success in winning the Super League title, the future planning around Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards off the field – we enter 2019 with the club in a very strong position and as champions. The year is perhaps the end of an era, the end of a successful era from the Maguire reign through to the 5th Grand Final win in October. However, 2019 is the start of a new era and one that looks very, very exciting!
Jon Lyon: Well it wasn’t a bad end to the year was it? Overall 2018 has been a huge success. After the early moans from the speccies about Wigan’s style of play and the news of player and coach departures, the boys did us proud and ended the year in a very determined fashion. After sending Waney et al out on a high there is also the exciting news of two returning legends in Lammy and Edwards to look forward to.
On the international front England did exceptionally well to beat a possibly slightly complacent New Zealand but certainly showed enough promise for us to look forward as a nation with positivity, bring on the Aussies, if they are ever gracious enough to fit us into their schedule.
Darren Wrudd: As a whole, 2018 was possibly the most stressed year of my life so far, but that was all work and the trials and tribulations of a bearing company – with regards the rugby I suppose it helped me so much when I needed it, that I got a lot out of the season following Wigan.
Ups and downs abounded with far too much regularity but I am an optimist and always try to look for the positives. I was not surprised that Bateman and Sutton fell for the bright lights of the NRL and really wish them well. Sam Tomkins however, I felt a little disappointed in as he signed for Catalans.
We will never really know the truth behind the decision and I thank him for his services this year, but can’t help but feel that Wigan has given him much more than he has given to Wigan. The rugby though has been most entertaining at times and there is not often a dull moment throughout the season at the Warriors.
What are your three stand-out highlights of 2018?
Sean Lawless: 1. St Helens away – That was the game that gave Wigan belief and sapped belief away from St Helens. This victory was the one that for me, set up Wigan’s Grand Final victory and placed a nagging doubt in the minds of the St Helens fans and team.
2. Catalans v St Helens, Challenge Cup Final – I feel like there is a theme developing here? As well as the Wigan defeat later in the season as mentioned above, the Catalans defeat for St Helens was brutal. It was the ultimate defensive display from the Dragons and it provided the rest of the league a blueprint on how to beat the Barba inspired Saints.
3. My third stand-out highlight of the 2018 season has to be the development, progress and success of the Women’s side in their inaugural season. Amanda Wilkinson and her staff have produced a remarkable first season, one in which the uniqueness and difficulty of the task may not be truly appreciated for years.
Jon Lyon: The obvious highlights in Super League of the Grand Final win and the 30-10 demolition of Saints aside, the highlight for me was finally seeing Dom Manfredi fit and back on the pitch, looking like he’d never been away. It has been such a long hard road, with genuine fears for his future along the way but finally all is looking rosy and long may it continue for the fan favourite
The international highlight was probably Gildart’s sensational try to help win a fantastic first test against New Zealand. I wish I had a pound for every time Oli must have watched that try back. My cup highlight is without doubt Catalans phenomenal near perfect showing against Saints in the semi final. As well as admiring the tenacity and attacking quality of the French, it provided quality comedy moments watching Holbrook’s face and seeing Wellens turning purple with rage while berating his players under the posts time and again.
Darren Wrudd: Highlights, England winning a series rates up there with them, even though the final match showed us what New Zealand can do if you are not on top of your game.
To top things off really well young Harry Smith, our under 19’s Captain, led England to Victory this week over the Australian touring side. Scoring 10 of our 14 points in a great game shows just how much talent we have coming through the ranks. He played alongside four other Wigan academy lads and really set the bar for the future standards. But I think for me the greatest highlight was after the dust had settled and the realisation sets in that not only is the Super League Trophy tucked away in our cabinet, but it is flanked by the ladies trophy and the academy trophy having won all three finals. That is massive and huge congratulations to the squads and backroom staff on all three levels.
Finally, a hypothetical: if Santa could deliver Wigan one extra-signing – from the NRL, Super League or union – who would you want?
Sean Lawless: Dear Santa, I would like Owen Farrell to sign for Wigan please. He is the best player in the world of Rugby Union, a Wigan lad, a leader and goal kicker! One day I think he will be a Wigan player, perhaps he could be one of the Union players Shaun Edwards referred to as being someone interested in coming to Wigan. He could come as World Champion for the 2020 season, once he has finished the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup.
Jon Lyon: Looking at the areas we possibly need to improve over the next couple of seasons it would have to be at half back. I’m a huge fan of Jake Connor, niggle and all, and he would be a great addition, if just to give everyone else another reason to hate us.
My fantasy Santa signing would be Michael Morgan from North Queensland Cowboys. He has finally stepped out of the great Johnathan Thurstons shadow and has all the handling and kicking skills we need and his combination with George Williams would be frightening, right up there with Edwards and Gregory.
If not then we still have Jarrod Sammut...
Darren Wrudd: Oh Santa, how good have I been in 2018? What would you be able to drop into this Wigan squad which we don’t already have?
I thought long and hard about this with most positions covered with a depth of quality that we have not seen for a few years. Perhaps another seasoned ball handling forward but that’s just because we have lost Sutton and Bateman, but if it were a wish come true I would have to say Shaun Johnson. He is the magical million dollar half back who has just joined Cronulla and is this generations’ standard for just how good it gets. Every half back in the game could study and learn, just imagine what he would look like in Cherry and White.