Wigan Warriors: Matty Peet looks ahead to the new Super League season, discusses the club's memory wall and praises the youngsters getting their rewards
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Peet states there is a good bond in the squad as they look to push themselves further after last season’s play-off semi-final defeat to Leeds Rhinos.
“It’s exciting now, the games are getting closer,” he said.
“It feels like practice is going well, the lads are certainly training hard but we understand that’s the same for every team at this time of year.
“Every camp will be happy and motivated, so a lot of what we are doing is making sure we are ready for the highs and the lows of the season.
“I can’t question the lads' effort and we have obviously got good facilities here at Robin Park.
“Hard work certainly lies ahead of us.
“It feels like there’s a really good bond, as it did last year. It feels like the staff and the players are working well together, but it’s when the test comes that you find out how connected you are and how deep those connections run.“We look forward to the challenge, and how it tests you both on and off the field.
“We had a good start last year, and some good steps were taken.
“We got some pleasing results, but we also had days when we didn’t put our best foot forward, so we are looking at how we can go further and be better in every department.
“Everything has been looked at and revisited. It’s not a complete overhaul but there have been some changes made.
“It’s important to learn quickly and not to dwell on things, but with the defeat at the end of the season you have a bit more time to reflect.
“I concentrated on myself first and foremost because I learnt so much last season, so it’s important to take those lessons onboard but also not to forget what we did well.”
In the team’s meeting room at Robin Park Arena, there is a wall full of photos documenting their achievements both on and off the field.
Ahead of the upcoming campaign, this will be cleared in order to make way for a new season of memories.
“We make a big thing of celebrating different things throughout the year,” Peet added.
“A lot of them happen off-field.
“They are things that celebrate our team spirit and moments with the fans.
“They just mark our story and our journey.
“I look forward to this being blank as we start another journey together, creating some more memories.
“You enjoy the highs and learn from the lows.
“I love the visual stuff here.
“Kris Radlinski deserves a lot of credit. He knows what the club is about better than anyone, but he knows the type of messaging we want to drive through the team and through the academy.
“He’s very supportive in getting the imagery on the wall and creates all this, celebrating our past players and our history.
“Everywhere you turn there is a memento or a nod to our past and it's a great inspiration.”
During the off-season, a number of the club’s younger players have been handed starting squad numbers.
“It’s at the core of the club that the team is built on homegrown talent and giving young players opportunities, and that won’t change,” Peet stated.
“It’s great to see those starting squad numbers go to Harry Smith, Liam Byrne, and Morgan Smithies, but it’s what we expect here and long may it continue.
“They deserve it and it’s credit to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes with our scouting networks and youth development staff, but also the trust put into them by the coaching staff and the board.
“That’s the way we want to be, looking at our academy first for players and then look elsewhere after that.”
Peet has also been impressed by the youngsters who have been promoted to the first team squad ahead of the new campaign.
“They’re certainly talented and that’s why they’re here,” he explained.
“This is what gives them an opportunity but they work really hard.
“Our established players have been very impressed by their attitude.
“A few of them made their debut in the Hull KR game, but as far as full time athletes this is their first pre-season and they’ve been excellent.
“I wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true.
“I hope when they get their opportunities, they get their reward and perform well because they are certainly working hard.
“The Hull KR game gets rid of a little bit of nerves and it’s a bit of an occasion, so it’s nice that that’s to one side for them and they can concentrate knowing there is nothing to fear when they step into that environment.
“The fact is we didn’t win that game and we could’ve.
“It’s a day that really frustrated me at the time because I feel as if we could’ve got the result.
“They have certainly shown signs of improvement and look as if they belong with the first team.”
Saturday’s game at Craven Park between Wigan and the Robins is a repeat of last season’s opening round fixture, where Peet’s side came away with a victory.
The pair met two further times in 2022, picking up a win each.
Following this fixture, the Warriors welcome Wakefield Trinity to the DW Stadium on February 24 in their first home outing of the new campaign.