Picking a Wigan Warriors dreamteam from the Super League era
We asked our 18th Man columnist to choose their greatest Wigan line-up from the Super League era...
Radlinski; Robinson, Renouf, Carmont, Richards; Barrett, Lam; O’Connor, Newton, Smith, Hock, Farrell, O’Loughlin
It was difficult from the start with Kris Radlinski and Sam Tomkins. Rads was superb for years and a one-club man, Sam was so good he was invited by the Barbarians to play rugby union, the only ever league player to do so. The wingers were difficult as I’m missing out Brett Dallas, Brian Carney who could create a try out of nothing, and Dom Manfredi.
Renouf and Carmont just edged out Gary Connolly, by a bug’s nudger. Trent Barrett was superb to watch, what a combination him and Lam would have been, Blake Green and George Williams just missed out. Terry O’Connor still goes under the radar of how good of a prop he was, Craig Smith too. I watched the 2003 derby and was massively impressed with the work rate of our props in that game, especially Smith. Gareth Hock on form was possibly the best second rower in the world, he ran hard and ran good lines and had a great offload, accompanying him is Andy Farrell, need I say more?
And locking up the scrum is Sean O’Loughlin. Both he and Farrell are legends of the club and will live long in the memory. Back rowers who just missed out are John Bateman, Joel Tomkins, Mick Cassidy, Ryan Hoffman and Denis Betts.
If I had a subs bench, it would be Sam Tomkins, Thomas Leuluai, Harrison Hansen and Iafeta Palea’aesina.
Radlinski; Robinson, Connolly, Carmont, Richards; Williams, Lam; A Farrell, Newton, O’Connor, Bateman, L Farrell, O’Loughlin
I’ve gone for longevity over short-term impact, which has ruled out the brilliance of Renouf, Barrett, Green, Dobson, Furner and Hoffman. Full-back position was a no-brainer. As hard as it is to leave out Sam Tomkins, Radlinski is the perfect full-back in attack and defence.
Jason Robinson has to be in the team for his ability to score out of nothing so the other wing position was between Brett Dallas and Pat Richards, and by virtue of his goal kicking, Richards just sneaks it.
Connolly and Carmont would be a great defensive centre pairing and both create for their wingers.
Stand-off was tough with the likes of Henry Paul’s magic to consider but I think George Williams is still under-rated by many, his kicking game was inch-perfect, defensively solid, pacey, creative, great passing game, if he has the runners he is the perfect stand-off.
At scrum-half Michael Dobson probably had the biggest short-term impact, keeping us up in 2006, but Adrian Lam was a joy to watch and a great coup for the club.
Prop forward was tough but I’ve had to cheat a bit.
There’s no way this team can’t have Andy Farrell and Lockers in the side so due to Faz playing at prop I’ve sneaked him in here, with Terry O’Connor just edging Neil Cowie, Craig Smith and Stuart Fielden.
Hooker was a shoot-out between Sam Powell, Micky McIlorum and Terry Newton, with Newton’s all-round game and never-say-die attitude winning out. RIP Terry.
So many second rowers to choose from, but for determination, courage and power John Bateman has to be in the team.
With Denis Betts’ best years pre-Super League, Gareth Hock and Joel Tomkins came close but Liam Farrell is the model of consistency, and there’s always THAT try against St Helens in the last minute to take into account.
With Andy Farrell in at prop, choosing Sean O’Loughlin at loose forward is another no-brainer. Not a bad vice captain to Faz, too.
Radlinski; Robinson, Connolly, Carmont, Richards; Paul, S Tomkins; Fielden, Mcilorum, O’Connor, Bateman, L Farrell, A Farrell.
I found this one really hard actual,ly as we have been so lucky at Wigan to witness some great overseas signings and to be lucky enough to see the likes of Sam Tomkins come through the academy. I couldn’t leave Sam out this team so he is in the halves beside Henry Paul.
In my time watching Wigan, I have never ever seen a centre/wing partnership as good as Carmont/Richards.
In fact, I cant recall one being as good in the Super League era. If I had to pick my all-time Wigan XIII once a year, they would be the first names on it.
Radlinski; Robinson, Renouf, Carmont, Richards; Barrett, S Tomkins; C Smith, Newton, Farrell, Hoffman, Furner, O’Loughlin
I know my selection has a couple of players shuffled around to make room for others, but it quite clearly makes the ultimate Wigan XIII. Radlinski is superior to Tomkins but Tomkins deserves to be in the team, I was mindful of picking Lam and Barrett. I restricted myself to seven overseas players, so my logic was to get Tomkins into the halves. Partnerships of Renouf/Robinson and Carmont/Richards make an awesome back line.
Craig Smith is perhaps one of those players overlooked by many but his performances for Wigan are up there with the best I have seen from a prop for Wigan.
Andrew Farrell had a few stints at prop later in his rugby league career, so that’s the perfect excuse to solve the problem of getting Farrell and O’Loughlin into the same team.
S Tomkins; Robinson, Renouf, Connolly, Richards; Paul, Lam; O’Connor, Newton, Smith, Bateman, Hock, A Farrell
It’s always tough having to select an all-time greatest Wigan side and I always stay off the fence by naming players out of position. Most were relatively easy apart from fullback, stand off and loose forward. Although Kris Radlinski is the most consistent and loyal full-back in the Super League era, Sam Tomkins’ in his first stint at the club was almost unplayable and a true once-in-a-generation type player.
He was absolutely right to join the NRL when he chose to do so and although he will always be held in high regard, Tomkins had the potential to earn the same legendary status as Brett Kenny and Ellery Hanley had he stayed at the club.
I think the majority may vote for Trent Barrett and they’d have reasonable argument to do so, but for me Henry Paul is my all-time best stand-off. Rising through the ranks from Junior Kiwi to Wakefield then signing for Wigan, but he was as well suited to the club and earned a Super League winner’s ring in 1998.
He was without a doubt 10 years before his time and was at times worth the entrance fee alone.
Choosing between Andy Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin is like asking you to choose your favourite child.
The decision is made tougher as the game as evolved, and what once suited one player might not necessarily suit another. I just think Andy Farrell’s ability to kick goals and his more vocal, aggressive approach to captaincy makes him stand out slightly more than the more reserved Sean O’Loughlin. Either way, I’m so thankful to have so much choice!
Radlinski; Richards, Gildart, Renouf, Dallas; Barrett, Leuluai; Fielden, Newton, Cowie, Cassidy, Farrell, O’Loughlin
My dilemma has been who to leave out, with difficult decisions in many positions. Charnley, Goulding, Connolly, Bateman, Powell and Tomkins (pick one from three), and you only scratch the surface on what characters and high-quality players we have had the pleasure of throughout the era. But my biggest omission I think has been Andy Farrell. A huge player for this club and made the team his own. He did everything and had a great understanding of the game, but Sean O’Loughlin stepped into his job as No.13 and captain and rather than mimic what was a tried and tested formula, he stamped his own mark on the task at hand.
When I first heard of his appointment as a young captain, I’ll be honest, I thought they had lost the plot. Talented, no doubt, but a quiet lad who just went about his business and led from the front. Stood under the posts after conceding points, we were so used to Andy Farrell tearing lumps off his own players that watching Lockers just stared up field seemed wrong and lacking passion. How wrong was I, and yes I have apologised to him in person too.
The toughest of competitors and yet the most gentle of men to meet, he is still the benchmark in this game and a fine ambassador for our sport as a whole. So while we have dozens of players from which to choose our favourites, Lockers for me will always represent the very best in Wigan, Super League and professional sport.