Why Wigan Warriors coach had zero doubt in handing Zach Eckersley his Wembley shot - 'That's the difference'

Zach Eckerseley raises the Challenge Cup with fellow Academy graduate Junior NsembaZach Eckerseley raises the Challenge Cup with fellow Academy graduate Junior Nsemba
Zach Eckerseley raises the Challenge Cup with fellow Academy graduate Junior Nsemba
Matty Peet says he was always 'very, very confident' Wigan Warriors youngster Zach Eckersley would shine on the Wembley stage.

The 20-year-old centre – whose dad Chris used to play for Oldham and Warrington – was thrown in at the deep end with first-choice Adam Keighran suspended after being sent off at Warrington the weekend before.

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And he more than repaid the faith shown in him by his coach, scoring Wigan's first try to give them a lead they never relinquished, as they ran out 18-8 winners.

Not that Peet had any doubts that would be the case.

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"Hand on heart, I was very, very confident," said Peet, who coached Eckersley at Academy level. "And more importantly, the players around him were even more confident.

"Zach, and Junior (Nsemba), have been in our system since they were 13/14, they've come from good schools where standards are high.

"John Duffy, who's on our Academy staff, is with us on game day enough.Our lads go watching the Academy train, they go watching the reserves train...we train a lot together, it's very connected.

"Quite a lot was made last week about young players playing, but it's how those young players play in big games. That's the difference...it's about playing well in big games, and winning things.

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"You're always a bit nervous for a young player, but it's also part of the story.

"Zach dropped a ball early on and you're a bit nervous for him...but what I do know is as soon as that happened, the other 12 blokes step up. They weren't scoring in that set, because the other 12 blokes had his back.

"So you're always very confident, because it runs through the system, it comes from knowing those lads personally, the relationships you build...and also the players around them having their back."

Peet also made reference to the role played in the background by Keighran, who masked his disappointment at not being able to play, along with the other players who missed out, including Harvie Hill, Tyler Dupree - who was also suspended - and the injured Willie Isa.

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"I must say a few words about a few players who didn't play on Saturday who have played a massive part in what we've achieved," added Peet.

"Adam Keighran in terms of how he's looked after Zach Eckersely this week. Tyler Dupree, who's had to put his own disappointment to one side...we understand mistakes were made there.

"Harvie Hill, who was unlucky to miss out on the 17...but most importantly Willie Isa, who did our shirt presentation on Friday night.

"You'll have seen some of the players holding up their flags of heritage, some of them have more than one...and Willie delivered a team meeting about that.

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"He talked about what the lads were representing while playing for Wigan, and it was very, very special.

"I'm sure it drove the lads to dig as deep as they did on the day...what he did there, as a leader, as a senior player...it was unbelievable."

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