The 18th Man...Wigan fans react to the timing of England v All Stars game

Wigan Warriors fans give their views on the game between England and All Stars, how they feel their side will cope with three games in 11 days, and how they'd react to Shaun Wane returning to the club.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:38 am
Shaun Wane (Photo: PA Wire)
Shaun Wane (Photo: PA Wire)

England play the All Stars tomorrow. What do you think of the concept... and the timing?

Darren Wrudd: As a concept, taking the best of Super League players not selected for England and giving the national squad a try out can only be good for the England squad and how they gel.

The timing however and organisation I feel is borderline incompetent.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

You can almost hear the whiteboard meeting now can’t you, ‘I know lads, we are in the middle of a world pandemic, this season is totally shot, so lets arrange a run out for the national side in the middle of next year, during a Super League round weekend and mix all the teams together who may or may not be carrying Covid 19’.

All those in favour!

Oh my goodness, what could possibly go wrong?

As a concept, due to the French experiment not creating a French side worth playing, England needs a run out and I am in favour of it, but as is often expected of the RFL, they could not organise a party in a socially-distanced brewery.

Ste Ford: I’m happy with the concept and the timing, the problem is that we should have had a free weekend in Super League. If we want to expand the game a strong international presence is an absolute necessity.

Alex Graham: I think the All Stars concept is a farce and result of long-term neglect of expansion and bad management of the game.

We introduced Catalan Dragons to Super League 15 years ago yet France as a competitive nation have arguably gone backwards as opposed to being an opponent who should be a decent challenge for England on Friday night.

I’ve seen criticism aimed towards Super League and chairmen for staging fixtures knowing England had a friendly penned in, but considering their clubs have been on the brink of existence during the pandemic and are still meeting daily challenges then I don’t blame them at all for looking after themselves for the sake of a friendly.

Especially when their opposition has been amateurishly thrown together by England and is made up of more Super League and key overseas players. Considering the on-going disruption and weekly fixture postponements; the World Cup, let alone this friendly, is poor timing and should have been postponed until next year.

Personally, until Super League finishes, I have no interest in the tournament, England RL or buying tickets for the tournament.

Sean Lawless: The concept of the All Stars game is fine but the clash with Super League games is utterly farcical.

Whether the issue is the Super League clubs cramming in too many games to try to recoup some ticket money or whether it’s poor planning from the RFL – the issue is somewhere in the middle.

As a collective, we want a strong league and we want a strong, competitive international team whereas at the moment, those two things are at odds with each other.

We are now in a position of poor Super League games played by stretched squads at half empty stadiums, clubs calling games off due to Covid and then an All Stars team which is probably closer to the Dog and Duck XIII – I am still expecting my call up!

Robert Kenyon: I like the concept but the timing of it is laughable. With there being Covid in the camps of some of the clubs and it being on the rise in the country the last things that they should be doing it pressing on with this pointless game, all it takes is one of the players in the ‘All Stars’ camp to spread it amongst the squad and the rest take it back to their clubs, it needs to be stopped.

I’ve heard they’re struggling for numbers so much that they are asking Championship clubs for players, they need to knock it on the head and get on with strengthening the bio security of the Super League clubs to ensure fixtures are fulfilled.

Jon Lyon: England badly need a game to give Shaun Wane time with his players before the World Cup.

France are unlikely to give us much of a test and if we played any Southern Hemisphere team I doubt NRL clubs would release their players so it’s the best of a bad lot and the toughest test we could realistically arrange. The timing clearly isn’t great but Super League have chosen to arrange league fixtures knowing the game would be on so they only have themselves to blame if players are missing and the crowd don’t fully buy either the All Star game or this round of fixtures.

In fairness Super League are no doubt wary of future league games being possibly cancelled due to positive Covid tests so are trying to keep as many fixtures fulfilled as possible but the quality of product we will be serving up this week is hugely diluted.

As for the concept, in truth, I couldn’t care less.

An All Stars team doesn’t mean much to me and all I will be bothered about is any Wigan players involved coming through unscathed.

I know Lancashire v Yorkshire didn’t take off and ideally we would have something to match State of Origin but I don’t think this even comes close.

If the players enjoy it and it can maybe attract some new younger fans then it’s worthwhile but it does little to get me excited.

After two losses, are you concerned about Wigan as they prepare for three games in 11 days?

Darren Wrudd: Not really concerned as they don’t hand out Grand Final places in June, but our growing list of injuries coupled with poor attacking form for, let’s be honest, most of this year is a concern.

I have never known as many hamstrings pulled and sometimes our players simply don’t seem to have the same energy as other teams do. I know it’s not desire that’s missing as the lads could not be more committed to the cause, so one has to look at every aspect of training with fresh eyes to see if we are perhaps flogging the lads or some of the strength and conditioning needs a review.

Our attack structure has not been the same since Paul Deacon left the club some years ago and perhaps a specialist attacking coach would be an advantage, but if we ever get something like a full squad back on the field, we should start to look something like that once more.

The next couple of games will be a test though and they will need all the support we can give them.

Ste Ford: I’m very concerned. I have feared for a while that we could end up in a freefall.

If we lose to Wakey, and I think we will, then I can’t see us winning a game probably until we play Leigh next.

We are poorly coached with a squad totally out of balance, exacerbated by the fact that we don’t have one decent senior prop. Very worrying times.

Alex Graham: I’m past concern and still await a response from what the club are doing to resolve the issues we have.

As a season ticket holder and supporter of the club I just don’t know what my expectations should be. Are we limping along to cope with financial struggles or are we still operating and looking to strengthen where necessary to usual high standards?

Regardless of early results our performances have rang alarm bells all season and recent results have simply exposed our reality.

There is a significant amount of people who have committed to the club by purchasing season tickets in the most challenging times and they’re not being given the respect and transparency on what, why and how our investment is being managed.

I’ll support the club on whatever journey they’re on and will be more understanding of poor performances so long I know what my expectations should be.

Sean Lawless: The next three games for Wigan are going to be tough, one win from the next three games may need to be good enough and even that is a tough task.

Going into these games in form and with players available would be difficult but a team low on confidence and missing Singleton, Hardaker, French, Field etc I fear the worst.

Having said that, this could be a good opportunity to get a real backs against the wall, us against the world attitude going amongst the squad – an opportunity to earn some pride and respect; either way a tough 11 days for Wigan.

Robert Kenyon: It could quickly turn into five if they aren’t careful.

Add into that the pointless and unnecessary England v All Stars game we could pick up injuries in to Farrell and Bateman.

We are threadbare as a squad as it is.

Jon Lyon: It’s hard, but very important, to keep perspective.

Performances haven’t matched results early on but we’ve still ground out wins which is not to be sniffed at.

The good news is the return of Marshall and Gildart, but they need to be given time to bed back in.

We will also have Hardaker back soon.

Hopefully we can field the same team for a few weeks in a row and get some continuity to our play.

While we can all get frustrated at performances, I don’t see the benefit of a number of fans calling for the coach’s head every five minutes or slating players when we lose. No-one will ever know more than a player if he has made a mistake or been off form. They need to be supported and lifted, not rubbished.

It’s a long season so let’s judge it at the end.

We have a good track record of finishing strongly so let’s get behind Lammy and the boys and support them through the sticky patches and give ourselves the best chance together of being there picking up trophy’s when it matters.

Would you welcome Shaun Wane’s return (in a rugby director-type role)?

Darren Wrudd: Not half! Like Adrian Lam, Shaun Wane is passionate about Wigan and rugby league too.

His attention to detail in the modern game is second to none and he see’s things that you or I would not even dream of.

To have such an expert in his field back at the club could only be a bonus to the team, the staff and our supporters too.

He breeds an honesty in those around him which has everyone striving to be the best that they can be and I would be thrilled to welcome him back to the DW in any capacity.

Ste Ford: I’d have him back tomorrow if it meant that Lam would exit at the same time.

Alex Graham: When Shaun Wane was at the club his impact was so much more than just performance. It was people management, standards and culture which I think has taken a dip since he left.

Although he seems to have knuckled down since deciding his future, I don’t think Shaun Wane would have let Jackson Hastings walk all over the club like did when he first arrived and was telling last Friday after seeing young Kai Pearce-Paul not receiving one pat on the back or acknowledgment for a brilliant try assist last Friday, which simply wouldn’t have happened in a Wane managed team.

With respect to Adrian Lam I think he’s a very good coach and could go to any club and improve aspects at what they do. However, I don’t think he is a head coach.

Though Wane’s time as a Wigan coach is spent, a Director-type role would be perfect to drive the legendary culture and standards he implanted whilst at the club from top to bottom.

Sean Lawless: Wigan are in desperate need for a culture reset, change is needed in the club and that may be in the form Shaun Wane or someone else.

I can see the value of bringing Wane back to Wigan, he gets the best from his players and that is an invaluable asset and one that Wigan are missing at the moment.

However, if Wane returned I would want that to be as Head Coach, rather than making the role too diluted or unique in Super League realms.

The idea of having a Rugby Director involved in the playing aspects creates too much uncertainty for my liking and rarely seems to end well.

Robert Kenyon: If Shaun Wane comes back as a Director of Rugby then they may as well call the title ‘Coach in waiting’, it doesn’t send a message out that they have faith in Lam so if that’s the case then either Lam or Wigan could do with making an uncomfortable decision. In my opinion a Director of Rugby is only ever installed at a club where the club has no faith in the coach.

I would welcome back Shaun Wane to the club no doubt about it, but personally I don’t agree with the ‘Director of Rugby’ role in any club.

Jon Lyon: I honestly don’t see how this would work. I don’t really know what the role entails but it seems to me like it would just leave Lam looking over his shoulder constantly, expecting Wane to take his job if things aren’t going well.

I also don’t think it would suit Shaun Wane. He comes across as someone so passionate about his players and our club that I can imagine he would be frustrated at not being able to be more hands on.

Kevin Sinfield certainly seems disillusioned with the role at Leeds and is now moving on to Union, so I think Wane should steer clear and stick to what he’s good at.

The Wigan club and Lammy need to decide what their plan is for next year.

If Lammy stays then great. If we or he feels it’s time to move on, only then should we approach Wane to see if he’s interested in coming back as a coach, not a director.