The 18th Man Column...Is Wigan Warriors' attack good enough to reach Grand Final?

Wigan Warriors fans talk about their team's attack and whether it has the quality to lead them to another Grand Final.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 9:36 am
Bevan French

Is Wigan’s attack capable of getting them to a Grand Final?

Robert Kenyon: Wigan’s attack is incapable of getting us to a Grand Final.

If we had French and Field in the side, props who offloaded and promoted the second phase, and quick distribution from dummy half then it would be a different story. We still have some good attacking players in the side with Hastings, Hardaker, Gildart, KPP and Marshall. But sometimes they look lost, maybe disjointed as a team, and maybe low on confidence to be honest.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

If we get to the Grand Final, then it would be the biggest turnaround since the Evergreen in the Suez Canal.

Darren Wrudd: Our attack is improving as young Harry Smith learns his trade under a very hot spotlight, and it seems Jackson Hastings is working overtime to compensate.

But it is much more than that as we simply have to have a platform to work behind, which is down to our forwards to lay down.

Digging deeper, though, I fear our young forwards are getting over-exposed and we are really missing having some rotation in the pack to rest one or two.

We have a distinct possibility that we will reach the semi finals and simply run out of steam, especially as other teams have played fewer games and rested their squads to keep them fresh, er, I mean safe from Covid of course.

We have the talent in the squad to reach and win a Grand Final, but they have to play as a squad.

Each in their correct position, each with their best game face on.

Then who knows, it could be a glorious year and go one better than 2020.

Jon Lyon: It really pains me to say it, but hand on heart at the moment I’d have to say probably not.

There’s no doubt on our day we can beat anyone, but those days have been too rare this season to have full confidence in another Grand Final appearance.

We showed against Castleford recently what we can do, but that win was built on our brutal aggressive defence and we did manage to score a few tries that day. More often than not, though, we have struggled for any cohesion in attack.

It is no surprise with the team still changing week by week with injuries and suspensions.

It is incredibly hard to build partnerships on the left and right when the players are in and out of the side.

I will still hold out hope we can pick up in the next few weeks and, if we can remain injury free, then who knows. But it will need a big improvement for us to pick up a trophy this season.

Lammy, it’s over to you…

Was there anything from the fans’ forum (or transcript) which surprised you?

Robert Kenyon: I think the fans forum should have been shown on Wigan TV whether live or shown later. It seemed a bit hush hush, but it’s nice to finally hear something from the club.

I feel they have been keeping us fans in the dark for quite a long time, and there were numerous issues festering that needed addressing, such as Edwards, Burgess, Lam, the squad, etc.

That’s one thing that is frustrating about the club – and they wonder why fans are disillusioned.

The communication from the club is poor, whether it’s email enquiries, social media or general news about contracts, especially players whose contracts are running out.

I don’t think anything surprised me too much about the forum, but from it I took – reading between the lines – that Ian Lenegan looks likely to pass control of the club to his family once he decides to step down.

Looking to next year and our squad, we have or are signing a halfback and have £75k left over.

Now I’m sure there are going to be contract upgrades to the likes of KPP, Shorrocks and maybe Brad O’Neill, so that £75k may well be eaten up.

Darren Wrudd: Of all the dates to select, my 30th wedding anniversary was never going to be spent at the fans forum.

Shame, as I would have liked to have been there.

The transcript I thought was very interesting, and followed Ian Lenagan’s tested format of a full and complete statement of fact which answers most of the questions in itself, leaving just a few to fend off at the end.

Financially, I was surprised to see the losses that the Lenagan family have taken on board for the club, no doubt largely Covid-oriented, and I thought it highlighted just how much we rely on our fans through the turnstiles.

So your presence at a match really does make a difference.

The only other thing that surprised and disgusted me, was that staff at the club had received abuse and threats from so-called fans over the phones or by ‘not so’ social media.

These cowards want to look in a mirror and hold their heads in shame.

As a supporter, I see my task is to support the team.

I may not always agree with decisions, but that does not stop me supporting.

That is what we all buy into when we select our chosen team and, while it is good to ask questions of your club, none of us should forget that there are real people behind the scenes, just like you and I, doing a job as best they can.

And no way should they be subjected to abuse from anyone.

Jon Lyon: Not especially, I think most realistic fans will already have appreciated the difficulties the club has faced, especially financially and are realistic about what we can spend and how urgently we need crowds to pick up.

The meeting seemed very honest and open, which I would expect from Ian and Kris.

I don’t think some fans realise how lucky we are to have these people running our club.

It’s all too easy when things aren’t running smoothly to criticise, and think the grass is greener and call for a change in management or coach.

Our club is incredibly well run compared to a lot of clubs.

Of course we’d all love to see a couple of marquee signings, but the reality is there just isn’t the money available and fans need to accept that. I’d rather we stayed within budget than took a chance on some huge names that, if they don’t pay off, might cripple the club.

I would hope the open lines of communication with the fans continues but ultimately we have to trust Ian and Kris to run the club accordingly, and I’m sure they will.

Catalans are the League Leaders’ Shield winners - how impressed have you been with them this season?

Robert Kenyon: They’ve been a good side, but that’s what you get with a decent pack and a dominant halfback in James Maloney supported by Sam Tomkins, two natural-born winners and leaders in your spine.

Steve McNamara doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a coach, and he’s done well at Catalans.

There are at least three maybe four players in that Catalans side who should still be wearing the cherry and white, and I hope that Sam Tomkins is pursuaded back to the club for a swansong.

He should never have left the first or second time, and it would be nice to have him back, he is exactly what we need.

Robert Kenyon: I find it very difficult personally to get excited about Catalans Dragons and Steve MacBanana.

I simply cannot see the exercise as a success and wish they had not been allowed in Super League at all.

I know I am probably in a minority in this, as many enjoy an away day when we are allowed to travel, but if you read back into the history of when they were brought into Super League, at a cost to our domestic clubs – as they had guaranteed no relegation, extra overseas players allowed, extra salary cap allowed and help with travel expenses, all justified as to make the French national team better to give a meaningful northern hemisphere international competition – then it’s a failure.

The club’s success is purely on the back of an English coach buying English players and throwing in a handful of French lads to make up the numbers. Yes they have a good squad, rested for a few weeks to keep them fresh, but not really a French success story, more like a team of ex-Wiganers, enjoying a life in the sunshine. Just wait until they get to the Grand Final.

The RFL will be having kittens as the crowd would be 45000 Wiganers and three Frenchmen with their stripey shirts and onions.

Jon Lyon: Catalans are certainly deserved winners of the League Leaders’ Shield. They have played some

great rugby and have, for me, the Man of Steel in Sam Tomkins. It’s great to see Catalans finally stop signing big-name, big-money players only there for a final payday and sign quality players in the right positions.

James Maloney had been a key acquisition also, and they have both youth and experience throughout the team. Like all successful teams, they have also been pretty lucky with injuries this year compared to some sides.

Ultimately I don’t see them winning the Grand Final, though I would be delighted if they did – if we don’t of course.

Their victory and the manner of the comeback was magnificent at Magic Weekend but, when it comes down to a one off big game I would still expect St Helens to dig out a win. I hope I’m wrong.