The 18th Man: Wigan Warriors fans react to Hull FC defeat

Wigan Warriors fans look back at what went wrong in their team's Challenge Cup defeat to Hull FC and what changes they would make against Leigh.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 9:39 am
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 9:40 am
John Bateman shows his disappointment as Wigan Warriors bow out of the Challenge Cup

Did the loss to Hull FC expose any weaknesses which you feel need addressing – or wasit simply a bad day at the office?

Sean Lawless: Unfortunately the defeat to Hull FC felt very much like deja vu from the Challenge Cup defeat against Leeds last year.

As soon as Wigan play in a knockout game, we seem to attempt to go to Plan Z straight away and panic.

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The other area that it exposed is the aggression in the pack; we seemed to get the balance right in late 2020 with Bullock and Singleton laying the platform in a similar way to how Flower and Clubb used to do so, but we have gone away from that.

We also seem to still have the issue of goal kicking but we have known about that since 2013 when Pat Richards left…

Jon Lyon: It’s important not to over react. A huge part of our loss was individual errors, which is hard for a coach to account for.

Players who’ve barely made a mistake all season were suddenly dropping the ball left, right and centre.

You have to give Hull credit for the pressure they put us under, but we’ve coped with pressure in the past and to me, it was just one of those days.

I can understand fans’ frustration on social media, especially in light of the similar loss in the semi-final to Leeds last year, but calling for the coach’s head after one loss is ridiculous.

All this “can’t win a big game” is nonsense.

We couldn’t have done more to win the Grand Final last year and lost on a fluke, we won the League Leaders Shield, and with most of our first choice back line missing this year are currently joint top of the league with a 100% record.

Lets keep some perspective, our motto is Ancient and Loyal, not Ancient and Fickle.

Darren Wrudd: It seems that quite a few members of the squad had a bad day at the office last week, but I won’t berate any individuals for errors as we all make mistakes and that cannot be helped at times.

It just feels like they arrived all at once.

My concern is that any team watching that game will see a clear plan how to beat the Wigan Warriors.

A very simple game plan of lay on the tackle as long as you are allowed, added to line speed and a quick play the ball when in possession, that’s it.

We are obviously coached to listen to the referee and when he says move – be instant in your reaction.

But if other teams are not doing this, we put ourselves at a great disadvantage.

The referees seem unwilling to police the ruck speed, so we must do the same and slow down the opposition. If not, we just gift too much momentum to attacking sides.

Alex Graham: I thought the performance showed a complete lack of preparation for a quarter-final of a major trophy and was clearly ignorant of the club’s achievements in the competition.

It was also frustrating to hear Adrian Lam repeat the same words as last year’s semi-final against Leeds which

are starting to become cliches.

Getting to a Grand Final, winning the League Leader’s Shield and earning individual accolades is all well and good but unless they result in winning the major trophies they mean very little.

So why has Lam now failed in five out of five attempts of winning a major trophy?

Personally, I think it’s persistent failure to address our front row issues. I can’t fault the efforts of the young props and no doubt they all have big futures, but experience is essential both for the team and their development.

I don’t think Lam is solely to blame as George Burgess should never have passed a medical and there’s been other front row signings/re-signings which have been poor decisions based on their unavailability, lack of selection and minutes played .

If we’re serious about winning the last major trophy available this season we need to boldly make an approach for a player in the same manner we signed Fielden in 2006, albeit for different circumstances. It simply needs addressing immediately.

Ste Ford: It just confirmed that Lam isn’t up to the job for me. No game plan whatsoever.Another must win game and another loss where we just didn’t turn up.

Front row again showed how ineffective it is in making hard yards. We need at least two new quality props before we come anywhere near good enough.

Would you make any positional or squad changes for the clash with Leigh?

Sean Lawless: The Leigh game feels like the right game to start Manfredi and then bring the positional changes that we expect to happen this season.

I would expect to see Hardaker move back to centre and French to full-back.

I would also like to see Havard given the opportunity to cement his place in the starting 13 at loose forward.

I think Partington has done an incredible job there but the inclusion of Havard from the start could give us a new dynamic moving forwards.

Jon Lyon: If Dom Manfredi is fit enough I’d have him back in the side from the start, but only if it’s not going to be a risk.

The last thing we need is to risk another injury after all he’s been through.

I would keep Zak at full back as he has been phenomenal all season and deserves to keep the spot, and Bevan struggled under the high ball last Saturday. Bibby should move into the centre to allow one of Isa or Farrell into the back row and maybe rest either Partington or Smithies to keep them fresh.

I’m not sure what Mitch Clark’s fitness is like, but it might be worth giving him a chance off the bench as, with all respect to Leigh, and I am setting myself up for a fall here, there will be tougher games ahead and it will be harder for Clark to be thrown in against Warrington or Saints if and when he may be needed.

Darren Wrudd: If Leuluai is fit, he simply must start in the halves alongside Jackson Hastings, if not then stick Bevan French there instead with Smith on the bench. Our short kicking game has been in question for a couple of weeks now and some time needs to be put into young Smith to take on the role at Super League level.

I like Harry Smith and think he could form the backbone of our half backs for years to come, but Lam needs to take care not to over expose him which could knock his confidence when things go wrong. We have some great mentors in the squad who could bring Smith on well, he just needs a good mix of game time and training.

I don’t envy Lam’s selection headache this time round. Any player who had a mare of a game will be desperate to put things right and I think the confidence gained from that would be invaluable.

So not too many changes just to take pressure off some young shoulders where we can and settle the side into a better performance.

If fully fit, Gildart and Leuluai would both be valuable assets and some fresh blood in the squad might lift their heads a little.

Alex Graham: I think French needs to move to full-back and Hardaker at centre with Manfredi continuing his impressive comeback on the wing.

As good Zak’s start to the year has been, over the last couple of weeks he’s been guilty of looking beyond Wigan and towards his England selection which has undoubtedly affected his performances for the team.

He made the ‘’best full-back in the league’’ comments to the media and then got into an ego battle with Jake Connor which created the wrong type of attention. I think going back to centre will settle him down and channel him to revert back into the form in which he started the year.

I’d also want to see more minutes from Joe Bullock.

There seems to be an agenda there from Lam with regards to giving him any more than 12-15 minutes which doesn’t offer anything to the player or team. Personally I think Bullock has much to offer, but if Adrian doesn’t why does he repeatedly waste a place in the 17?

Ste Ford: French to full-back, Hardaker to centre and Farrell to second row which would mean Smithies to the bench.

No changes to the 17.

If Leuluai is fit I’d be tempted to give Powell a rest to the bench and leave out Shorrocks

Wigan’s academy side are back in action on Friday - in the Super League era, which youngster most impressed you when he stepped into the first-team?

Sean Lawless: When you think of the academy and immediate impressions, you cant look much further than Sam Tomkins

His impact was incredible, he didn’t just become a part of the team, he became an instrumental part of the team.

The other players that stand out for me include Shaun Ainscough, although it didn’t work out for him in the long run at Wigan and Super League level, his dynamism on the wing was just what Wigan needed at a time when they were starting to gain some form under Brian Noble. Notable mentions to Kevin Brown and Gareth Hock – at a time when Wigan were short of players, they stepped up and impressed straight away in the first team.

Jon Lyon: There have been so many great players come through in the Super League era like O’Loughlin, Hock, Williams and Manfredi, amongst many others, but for an instant impact its impossible to look past Sam Tomkins. Scoring five tries on your debut in a cup game is an incredible record and following on from Tim Smith’s injury Sam got a long term shot the following year and ended up in the Super League Dream Team, also winning Super League’s Young Player of the Year as well as Wigan’s own Player of the Year. That is some impression to make in the space of 12 months.

Sam will always be one of the most exciting players I have ever seen.

He could score from anywhere on the pitch, had exceptional pace and a wonderful ability to change direction at full speed.

The fact he wound up the opposition players and fans in equal measure just makes me love him more.

Darren Wrudd: I have been thinking back a little on this one and several names really spring to mind when I think of our academy graduates. Most up to date of course is George Williams, currently killing it in the NRL but maybe on track for a return to the UK next year.

But a name that stands out for me was Chris Melling.

A most promising full-back who could kick a goal from all over, he suffered two ACL rebuild operations one after the other and showed tremendous character as a young man to fight back through both to full fitness. He was a gifted player with an amazing commitment to tackling which the best full backs have in abundance and after a career as a player for Wigan, London and GB, went on to physiotherapy and currently plies his trade with Halifax. A very decent young man, good too see he is still involved in the game.

Alex Graham: I’ve never seen a player impact not just Wigan but the competition as Sam Tomkins did when he first came on the scene.

I followed his performances in the academy and wasn’t surprised by his five try debut against Whitehaven in 2008.

Despite everything Tomkins has accomplished in Super League I still think his first stint at Wigan was underestimated and had he not joined NZ Warriors, the trajectory he was on would have landed him in Wigan’s Hall of

Fame.

Ste Ford: I thought Kai Pearce-Paul looked good against Saints last season and he could add to our limited attack options as he appears to have good ball handling skills which are non existent in the usual suspects playing in the pack.