The 18th Man...Wigan Warriors fans make their predictions for the team's next five Super League games

Wigan fans look ahead to the next five matches as Warriors look to halt their current losing run.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 10:18 am
Action from the derby
Action from the derby

Wigan have lost their last five matches; of their next five, how many do you think they’ll win?

Jon Lyon: I can see us winning at least three of those games, maybe four if we can get a few players back.

I agree with Lammy that we’re not that far away.

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I thought the effort against Saints was outstanding and considering they had a well rested, all but full strength team out and we were playing our third game in 11 days with half a team we should be proud of the efforts.

No doubt there’s still plenty missing in attack but again we had no Hardaker, Manfredi, French, Field and are playing Hastings at full back so it’s easy to see why the team are disjointed going forward.

If we can develop more second phase play from offloads from the likes of Kai Pearce-Paul, who has been outstanding, and straighten up our attack we should be able to give the likes of Bibby, Marshall and Gildart some earlier ball and more room to work with.

Another area we need to seriously work on is discipline.

I think some of the penalties, and resulting yellow cards, given against us by James Child were borderline farcical but there’s no doubt we’ve been conceding too many penalties all season.

It’s no wonder we struggle to score when we gift the opposition so much field position and spend so much more times defending than attacking.

Darren Wrudd: I think a lot will depend on injuries and how many players we can get back on the field.

Clubb for sure is available but how long for Bateman or Hardaker and even Jai Field who is now seemingly back training.

We have been hit hard recently with bans and injuries which has certainly not helped the cause.

Looking at the fixtures there is certainly a possibility for five from five, as by the time we see Wire in the headlights we could be in much better shape.

But we need to consolidate our spot now and put Huddersfield to bed.

Only a good performance will do, like the second half last Monday.

If we can do that, the results will look after themselves.

Ste Ford: I’ve been saying for a while that we won’t win a game again until August which would mean one win against Leigh.

We may win another one but I can’t see win as long as we have Lam in charge.

Defensive line speed is too slow and our attacking threat is almost nil.

If any team scores 12 or more against us they win.

At the moment the club has the same feel as when Millward was in charge, i.e. no direction and an inability to carry out the basics.

Alex Graham: I’d expect to at least win all our home matches.

However, opposition teams will be licking their lips at playing Wigan at the moment.

Although I was disappointed with the result against Saints, I was pleased with the effort and aggression.

With home advantage and a few returning bodies, with the same application I expect to beat Huddersfield on Sunday and there’s no reason why shouldn’t show gradual improvement from now onwards.

Andy Grundy: It’s been a tough time recently, five losses for any team in the league will bring along with it many questions.

I’ll say this, it is one thing losing and then it is another thing losing through poor play and errors that relate to lack of discipline, and for me, this for sure has started to creep into the team.

Granted there has been effort from players and that should also be acknowledged, and key players have been missing, which without doubt has played a role in some of the performances and results we have witnessed.

Plus, the quick turn-around, as was the last game against St Helens, who let’s face it had a more than advantageous rest period.

Yet, at the same time, the players who have turned out are all full-time and well-paid professionals, many of whom are established and of course playing for Wigan Warriors, so there is rightly an expectation that comes along with this.

From the next five, for me, I think we are more than capable of winning all five.

Yet, it is all dependent on the necessity to ensure that the team focus on one game at a time, cut out silly errors, the return of key players and of course keeping players off the injury list.

I do however think that Warrington and Wakefield will be the toughest game of the group and if I was forced to choose, I would say these two games could be losses for us.

And let’s not forget Huddersfield turned over Wakefield 40-14 with a dominant second half performance in their last game and the struggling Leigh Centurions have seen some improvement, so they too, as of them all, will not be walk over games!

To make a point if I may, it is imperative that fans get behind the team.

It is understandably very hard to keep upbeat in such a situation and we are all guilty of expressing our upset at times.

But players do feel the pressure both internally and externally, not least the personal pressure they put themselves under. And the tweet by Jackson Hastings recently spoke volumes. PLEASE… keep the faith and remember, “Ancient and Loyal”.

Should Adrian Lam move Jackson Hastings from full-back... and if so, who should play the No.1 role/miss out?

Jon Lyon: I think Hastings is wasted at full-back.

We need him in the halves to create.

It seems Lam doesn’t think Umyla Hanley is ready for the full back role, in which case why not loan him out to get some first team experience? Personally I’d give him a shot but I can understand Adrian not wanting to shatter his confidence if he makes a few mistakes.

I’d rather see him given a go though, you never know until you give someone a chance.

If Hanley did get the chance I’d play Hastings in the halves and rotate Tommy/Harry off the bench in the other halves spot and also one of them could give Sam Powell a break.

I think we’re stuck with Jackson at full back until Hardaker returns, more for his experience, but we are suffering for him doing so much running, he seems shattered by the time we start attacking.

Darren Wrudd: I fully understand why Lam has selected Hastings at the back as its good to have an experienced and solid performer there or we could be quite vulnerable.

But at what cost to our attacking organisation do we persevere without our best chance to score points being where he should be.

I am a believer in leaving main players where they perform best, doing most damage and so would slot in a young full back like Umyla Handley whom would feel much more secure behind an organised squad.

With Tommy on the bench to cover hooker or half, it would free Jackson to steer us around the park and take an enormous amount of pressure off young Smith so that he could play his part without the weight of the club on his young shoulders.

Ste Ford: We have for me got to play someone who has played there therefore, that can only be young Hanley. There are obvious risks associated with that but we just cannot afford to not have Hastings in the halves.

Give Smith a rest as he has looked really exposed at times recently and a rest may do the lad some good.

Alex Graham: Although Hastings has done a good job to plug the full-back spot there’s been a huge void in the halves. We have a specialist full-back in Umyla Hanley and we also have outside backs who can cover the position and one another.

It’s pretty conclusive Jackson Hastings would be one of the best players on the park in any role, but seeking the best option for one position opposed to the greater good of the team makes no sense.

It was interesting to see Sean Long agreeing with the overwhelming amount of Wigan supporters to keep Hastings in the halves and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case on Sunday.

Andy Grundy: Jackson Hastings will play in any position and play well.

This is a sign of a great player with a fantastic attitude.

But he is not a full back, or at least I most certainly do not see him best utilised in this role.

I am sure we would all agree, he should be dictating play from the front and this change for me needs to happen in the next game.

And, as Sean Long stated after the last game on Sky, one or two key players returning into a side really can make all the difference and Adrian Lam, we are led to believe, will have this option at his disposal in the next game or at least very soon.

I’ll leave it to the coach to decide who he starts and why, but I would like to see Hastings back alongside the experienced head of Thomas Leuluai, who are not just quality players, but fantastic leaders.

Robert Kenyon: I think Hastings works hard at fullback and does his best but we need a proven fullback there. In my opinion if your first team fullbacks are out injured then you dip into the reserves/academy, on this basis I'd go with Umyla Hanley in the fullback role so we can see how he is in his natural position.

Huddersfield’s game at Castleford this week became the 10th in Super League this year to be postponed or forfeited. Is there anything that should be done differently with the Covid protocols?

Jon Lyon: It’s a very tough situation we are in.

I think a lot of people were critical early on that the table was to be calculated by a win percentage straight from the off, but we are now seeing why.

I don’t think there’s much more you could change.

I do feel for Castleford though when they had to forfeit 24-0 to Saints.

It seems they had so many injuries to their first team squad but not enough with Covid to postpone the game.

Yet their youth teams were rife with COVID and in normal circumstances those young players would have covered for the first team injuries so it seems harsh they had to forfeit just because it was youth players and not the first team squad who had positive tests.

We’re just going to have to muddle through this year and try and host as many games as possible to bring some vital income into the clubs to keep them going. It’s the best we can hope for, and of course if Saints win the Grand Final then it’s a watered down competition that doesn’t matter, and if we somehow win it then it’s a great win in a tough competition!

Darren Wrudd: I really don’t know is the honest answer. Sure we all have our views on Covid and the current stance of Government or organisations and we should respect one another’s views however different they might be from our own, but the one thing I don’t think we can mess with is the health and well being of players, staff or fans.

The latest press reports look like we are soon all going to be let off the leash as it were, I just hope that clubs keep the requirement for mask wearing inside the grounds or I shall have to consider if I want to be involved or not this year.

As for players, isolation and postponements, if you have a better idea – let’s hear it.

Ste Ford: I’m not entirely sure what can be done differently. However, if a game is forfeited then the 24-0 should be increased to say 40 points.

Alex Graham: I thought it exposed the serious leadership issues Super League and the game has when the elected chair of the competition allowed the club he owns to forfeit a game.

What statement and perception does the competition express when ten games are postponed and forfeited? Unfortunately, the weak punishment of a 24-0 loss is an easy enough pill for some clubs to swallow and they’re abusing the system.

For the best interests and integrity of the competition, stricter punishments need to be implemented by means of points deductions.

But if the chairman of the competition is abusing the system, it doesn’t give us much hope, does it?

Andy Grundy: I think it’s been very tough to manage and as a game, I think we have done a decent job all things considered. Covid cases are apparently increasing, yet we are now being told by the Government that we need to essentially get back to some form of normality.

All fans will be allowed back into grounds soon and the protocols that have been required/a necessity, will also be relaxed. With this in mind, I think this will have a positive impact on the game with much less disruption, fingers crossed!

Robert Kenyon: This is a tough one in light of the latest news regarding lifting all restrictions, I don't know what that means for the future of testing teams etc.

For the meantime all you could really do is daily lateral flow tests for the players and staff in camp, one step further could be living in biosecure bubbles like they did in the NRL last season but with the latest news, who knows.