The 18th Man Column...Wigan Warriors fans give their views on the Magic Weekend
Wigan Warriors fans talk about the Magic Weekend, what their chances are against Warrington and what impressed them most in their win over Castleford.
The Magic Weekend - keep, tweak, overhaul or ditch?
Robert Kenyon: For me, the Magic Weekend should be a season opener with the league reverting back to winter rugby. It should be played August Bank Holiday weekend with the Challenge Cup Final moving back to May and being a season closer.
Failing that, if we were to stay a summer league, then maybe a 9s competition with some invitation teams from Union or the NRL or international sides.
Ste Ford: I’ve never been a fan as I think that it is major contributing factor for reduced attendances at Wembley.
If it must be retained then I’d love a 9 a side competition. The biggest issues would be getting Sky’s buy-in and a suitable sponsor.
Jon Lyon: I am a huge fan of the event, if it’s organised well then it makes for a wonderful day/weekend away.
Of all the venues so far, Newcastle has been my favourite.
Being situated right in the city centre makes a big difference and I think has a much bigger impact on the locals.
I would be a fan of moving around every few years as it is an ideal concept to spread the word.
We need to hold the event in areas where we can try and attract new fans.
I’d love to see it held in Dublin one year, what a weekend that would be!
The only other thing I’d change is who plays who.
It does become a bit dull playing first Leeds then mostly Warrington year on year. Either make it a “derbies” round or at least mix the opposition up a little.
Darren Wrudd: I think the concept of an away day is fine with our game, not all fans will get to see their team on the big stage.
So a Magic Weekend can be good from that point of view. The only thing that needs a tweak is the fixtures our players must face each season.
So yes, keep the Magic Weekend concept but stick with home and away fixtures without the need for extra loop games added on to the end, and the extra time created could lead to other concepts like Lancashire v Yorkshire starting up again and the odd international break for touring sides, which could be the extra excitement we all crave.
What are Wigan’s chances of beating Warrington?
Robert Kenyon: First and foremost, I think the team need some sort of bonding exersize to galvanise them ahead of the play-offs.
They are still playing like a bunch of strangers.
If we are to beat Warrington we need to keep our cool, Hastings needs to orchestrate the game more like Barrett used to do, our props need to start offloading, and whether it’s Powell or someone else, whoever is at 9 needs to get us on the front foot and speed us up.
Brad O’Neill looks like he could do that, and I’d have him in ths bench to provide a bit of zip and up the tempo.
I’d also get the ball the our centres early to give them time and space to create space and overlaps.
Ste Ford: I can’t see us getting close let alone win.
The two issues that consistently hold us back are we have a painfully slow approach to all aspects of the game and the seemingly inability to start a game well.
Jon Lyon: We’re obviously still huge underdogs but if we defend like we did against Castleford we would have a chance against anyone.
We need to bring that togetherness and determination to every game from now until the season’s end.
Closing George Williams down will be hugely important, and Hastings will need to be in his face all game, and I’ve no doubt he will be.
Daryl Clark is also a big part of their go forward, so either Joe Shorrocks or Sam Powell, if he is back, will need to win that battle, which is a big ask.
If we can score early, not something we are renowned for this year, then we can keep the home crowd quiet, and if we give the likes of Gildart and Marshall some space then anything could happen.
Let’s have a go and move the ball around and see what happens, and let’s mix up the last tackle plays as well.
Darren Wrudd: We certainly do have a great chance of beating Warrington.
George Williams will no doubt be getting some stick from his old Wigan colleagues, but his sideways running is easy to deal with.
The biggest challenge is the pace at which Wire cycle the ball.
Our defence at Castleford was eager and committed and we need to see much more of that.
The hunger to do the hard running is what we are all about but, with careful guidance from our halves, the direction can be far more effective.
One weakness I do think Warrington suffer from is their rushing defence.
A chip over or through the linecould really open them up and sow the seeds of doubt in their eagerness to rush up.
So a few more grubbers through the line is what I would like to see.
What impressed you most about the victory against Castleford on Monday?
Robert Kenyon: I was impressed with Zak Hardaker at full-back, if French isn’t fit then Hardaker needs to play there every time.
I was impressed that we lost the ‘acting hard’ image that adds nothing to the game or result.
I was impressed with Jake Bibby, he’s a player who always puts a shift in, and for the five minutes he was on I saw a fleeting glimpse of Brad O’Neill, why he didn’t play longer I’ll never know.
The result flattered us as I thought both sides were error strewn and stuttered all game, it wasn’t good to watch but a win’s a win.
Ste Ford: Just the win really, however it was good to see Singleton have a decent game after a very slow start to the season.
Castleford were truly appalling but I’d take a win any day of the week.
Jon Lyon: Let’s be honest, after the two previous matches it was a very pleasant surprise.
I thought Cas were shocking with ball in hand but let’s put that down to our aggression in defence, which was outstanding.
Partington and Smithies in particular stood out defensively in chasing down Cas players, but the team as a whole worked incredibly hard for each other.
Both Halsall and Marshall made some huge plays in keeping the ball in field, which had a massive impact.
It’s those little extra efforts we’re going to need from everyone if we’re to have any chance of heading to the Grand Final.
Halsall was outstanding under the high ball, and the whole back line brought the ball back well from kicks.
As always Hastings controlled the game and we need him fit to have a chance against Warrington and beyond.
We still need more runners and dummy runners for him, to give us options and confuse defences.
Kai Pearce-Paul also made a big impact off the bench and his off loads will be a vital attacking weapon for the rest of the year.
It was fantastic to see the team play so well together and it has given us a big lift just when we needed it.
Now we know Lammy is leaving at the end of the year, let’s hope we can send him off with a Grand Final win.
Darren Wrudd: Zero. By that I don’t mean that I was not impressed of course, but the manner of keeping Castleford scoreless on their own patch for the first time in 15 years for them, was a joy in itself.
Defence wins games and, with every pundit from Sky giving us no chance of success, we needed to combine a dedicated defence with a structured attack to put the Yorkshire puds to bed.
Some outstanding performances from several players with special mention to Sam Halsall who is for sure going to be a household name.
My man of the match though for outstanding contribution and consistency has to be Jake Bibby.
Are we sure he is not a second rower?! His tackling was awesome.
A bit more of that this weekend and we won’t be far off the mark.