Wigan Warriors: The 18th man contributors pick their players of the season so far
I'd have to say the stand out player this season has got to be Jai Field. I tipped him at the start of the season to be the breakaway star this year and I was right.
Australians who stick around after a bad first year and put the effort into the second season are always rewarded with great form.
Second is Liam Farrell, Mr Consistent, quietly going about his business and with Wane in charge of England now Farrell should be starting backrower.
In third place Patrick Mago - I've been crying out for an offloading prop for years and now we have one. I think Mago needs his own onlyfans account for private showings of his offloads because they are x-rated.
Special mentions to Liam Byrne who has upped his game this season, Kaide Ellis who is a grafter and Cade Cust who is doing a great job steering the team around the pitch.
Tasked with selecting my three favourite players so far in 2022, I feel like a parent asked to pick their favourite child.
So I just could not do it as I couldn’t in all honesty reduce it beyond six and that was harsh indeed to many others.
But I managed to skew the remit a little and have therefore selected my favourite three overseas and home grown, how’s that for a compromise.
Thomas Leuluai would make any team in Super League, which at 36 years old is a big statement, but this year has seen him play like he did at 26.
A new energy and vitality courses through his game and we call him the axe, as no one cuts a player in two like he does.
The general whilst on field he has an amazing mind for the game and can impart that to his charges all around him, he has been sublime so far this year.
Jai Field would obviously feature in this list too, he seems to enjoy his footy here and it shows in the spring in his step.
Pace is just something you cannot train at that level and he has brought a threat in our attack which must send shivers down opponents spines when the legs get tired.
Several times he has shown his confidence as a full back from showing opponents the outside edge knowing he will cut them down with his pace and technique to knocking Conrad Hurrell into next week to save a try. He’s a keeper for sure.
The final antipodean would be Cade Cust, my goodness I rate this lad. A great team player he often goes unnoticed but has his hands on the ball in almost every play.
His passion is infectious and he is as tough as they come. I hope he enjoys his time here at Wigan as the fans love him and it would be great to build a long term career here as his style just fits what we do.
As for the home boys, I could not miss out the fantastic Jake Bibby. He would probably be my choice of most consistent and reliable player of 2022.
His defence is just smart. Guiding attackers to choose when and how to cover them he has such a good understanding of the body language of opponents that he is more often than not in the right place at the right time, but not by chance.
Harry Smith looked a little out of sorts early season and I thought he had a confidence issue, but as Leuluai misses out through injury he has taken his chance and matured to show a shape of what is to come.
He commands the players around the park and has a great rugby brain. Drawing defences from one edge to the other to eek out the gaps.
His kicking game has improved beyond recognition and if that is the Briers effect, long may it continue.
The lad has obviously put a lot of hard work into shaping himself into the pivotal role. He could be my first name on the team sheet if it were not for the Ginger Pearl, Liam Farrell.
Liam in my eyes is what being a Wigan player is all about. Dedicated and completely committed to the club he is the consummate professional.
A most humble character in himself he has long been a favourite at the club and it is easy to see why.
Players like Liam are very few and far between and we are lucky to spend these years watching him give his all to this wonderful club. I know we all have our favourites, but I would be astonished if Liam was not at the top of most peoples list.
It’s a tough ask to choose the top three players so far this year, such is the overall improvement across the team from last season.
A few players have shone but been out for spells with injury such as Havard, Tommy and Marshall, while Smith has excelled in recent weeks also.
My first choice is a pretty simple one, Jai Field has brought excitement back to Wigan by the bucketload.
Like Bevan French before him, Jai has Usain Bolt-esque pace to the point that no-one in the whole competition can get near him.
Even when defences are tight, when we’re tired, when we’re struggling to win, he comes up with a piece of magic, such as his last gasp try against Salford, and the whole stadium erupts.
This is what watching Wigan has always been about. It’s said too often about mediocre players, but Jai Field genuinely is worth the gate money on his own, an absolute pleasure to watch.
My second choice is Liam Byrne. Liam played well in spells last year but like a lot of the young lads thrown in he seemed to fade a little as the season went on, too much rugby too soon possibly.
With the arrival of Ellis and Mago it was looking likely he would make a few appearances off the bench at best, but for me he has been the most consistent prop of the year.
He has run the ball in hard and tackled with controlled aggression all season, and while Ellis with his last two or three performances and Mago with his offloads might have grabbed more headlines, Liam has been doing the hard yards right from the first hit up of the season.
My final choice is Liam Farrell. He has been the most consistent player at our club over the last ten years and if anything is still getting better and better each year.
Tireless defensively, the Ginger Pearl is more often than not also our best bet of breaking the defensive line and some of his tries this year have defied logic.
It was incredible watching him channel his inner Ellery Hanley to waltz through Saints defence in the cup semi final, he seems to be rugby’s version of Benjamin Button, I can’t wait to see how good he is when he’s seventy.