'˜Who was the most difficult player?' - Shaun Wane grills departing Wigan Warriors performance director Bitcon
Shaun Wane is not the only member of the senior staff leaving after the Grand Final. Performance director Mark Bitcon, who joined in 2010, is leaving to join Manchester City.
Here, in a Wigan Post exclusive, Wane took the chance to ask Bitcon five questions of his choice...
Shaun Wane: Give me an embarrassing moment while you’ve been at Wigan?
Mark Bitcon: We went out with Mickey Rourke and a few of the staff, and Mickey bought drinks all night, a lot of shots. Because I’m not a big drinker, I pretended to drink my shot, and then spat it out into a Budweiser bottle. Which was going fine, until the end of the night when Iestyn Harris said, ‘Are you going to leave this beer?’ He took a swig and realised what I’d done, it was full of vodka - everyone was laughing at me and giving me stick.
SW: If you could pick one single favourite memory, what would it be?
MB: Probably 2016. Counting down to the final whistle – that moment. It was more relief, because it had been such a tough season, but that was my favourite. The most special was the World Club Challenge, having lost it twice.
We’d been well-beaten at Sydney Roosters and pushed St George Illawarra close, and so to finally get the win – against a very good Cronulla side – was special. But yes, in terms of my favourite memory, the end of the Grand Final in 2016.
SW: And what’s been your funniest moment?
MB: It was probably one of those moments which you had to be there for, but it was one time when we went to Miami. We had a couple of days off and the staff were at a really nice bar, having a couple of drinks – nothing daft. Anyway, the Snow Patrol song, ‘Chasing Cars’ came on and Rads had us all lying down on the dance-floor, looking up at the ceiling.
As we got up, I could see you (Wane) stumble, your legs went and you half-circled and collapsed on Rads! He was still lying on the floor and the poor bloke didn’t know what had hit him! I was crying with laughter for 10 minutes.
SW: Which Wigan player have you found most difficult to work with?
MB: Probably Mark Riddell. I had a few flashpoints with him in the early days in 2010 when Michael (Maguire) took over.
Piggy wasn’t in the best shape, he dodged sessions... he wasn’t my type of guy in the first two months. It was difficult. I said to Michael, ‘I’m not working with this guy again, he can do his own thing’ and I’ve never said that about any other player. But in the end, you work through it and it was satisfying.
And having worked closely with him and tried to get him on board and helped get him into shape we built up a great friendship.
SW: How do you want people to talk about you when you’ve gone?
MB: I’d like to think I’m a good guy and been helpful to them all, not necessarily just the big-name players. I’d like to think I’ve had an impact on making them into better players and better people.