Wigan Warriors- The 18th man: 'It is so important to recognise the past players of the club and show them just how much we think of them'
The 18th man contributors reflect on Wigan Warriors’ last two games and look ahead to the clash with Warrington Wolves.
If you look at the scoresheets, it seems we are pretty inconsistent at the moment but it’s not really so.
The end column might read loss/win/loss/win but in fact we played decent rugby in three of the four last games.
What exactly we were thinking about against Leeds I cannot say but there was something terribly wrong with the energy and desire we showed.
After the previous week's rout of Hull FC perhaps we thought we only needed to turn up for the points.
Leeds went on to demolish Catalans and so may have turned a corner themselves and it certainly adds credence to their victory over us.
Thank goodness for the Hull sides who inadvertently helped our points difference to get within one of Saints, who were themselves roundly beaten by Salford.
So it seems the time of year is upon us where anything could happen.
One thing I took from last week's game was just how much of our structure we gain from having Sam Powell on the field.
We tore through KR’s defence often like it was not there and dominated every part of the game.
But when Powell left the field of play we looked decidedly lost at times and lacking structure. Of course we will learn from that and be better for it, but I think year on year Sam Powell has improved to be one of the cornerstone players, around which everything seems to flourish.
What can we say about Bevan French which has not already been written, a superstar of the game.
I think many will only realise just how good he is after he has gone back to the NRL.
Enjoy him while you can, revel in his successes and hope that he does indeed add another couple of years to his contract, which would be just the best news ever.
This week we look to win our second silverware of the year, the Locker Cup was a great competition played since the early seventies usually as a pre season ‘friendly’ against Warrington.
Were they ever friendlies? I think not, but some great matches.
Brought back again as a one off, it adds spice to an already must win game for Darryl Powell.
Warrington’s fall from grace, coinciding with Powell’s arrival, has been the shock of the season so far in my eyes.
He seems to have taken over a successful squad and systematically dismantled it.
We have gained from his antics by bringing Mike Cooper on board who, if he can control his penalties, could be a great addition to the squad.
The game I think will contain a real fire, whilst Warrington are desperate to find some kind of form we will be equally so to put in a performance and stop the yoyo results.
The evening is also the Heritage round which should see many fans wearing their retro shirts and I expect a good crowd.
I think it is so important to recognise the past players of the club and show them just how much we think of them at these events, so I shall choose one of my older shirts and give them a warm welcome, hope you do too.
It was the first time in a number of years that I made the effort to go to Leeds after enjoying our performances for the majority of the season.
I am never overly confident before any game but our form was good despite the loss to Saints, and with Leeds seemingly fielding a weakened team I was quietly confident of a win.
From minute one it was pretty obvious that Leeds were definitely up for the game, while we started slowly and deteriorated from there.
We looked tired; Leeds were full of energy. We were making mistake after mistake, Leeds passed with abandon at times but all the passes stuck.
We made good yardage when we kept hold of the ball but then squandered it with a wild pass to no one or to the opposition.
Leeds bombed at least two gimme tries and if I’m honest if they had scored 50 it would not have flattered them.
Leeds seem to be on the road to some sort of revival. Along with Salford, Hull and Castleford, they will fight it out for the 5th and 6th playoff positions.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Leeds joined Salford to complete the playoff positions.
A bad day at the office for us with virtually all of the players having a poor game.
Leeds took care of Field and Smith with ease and we had nothing else to offer which was a little worrying.
Field looked tired which is not surprising as he is involved in every set of six when we have the ball and I think that he hasn’t missed a game all season.
Hopefully Peet can find a match or two to rest Field before the business end of the season begins.
A very bad day at the office too for the referee and the video referee.
I couldn’t get to the Hull KR game due to work commitments but having watched the highlights it was an extremely comfortable victory with perhaps the biggest surprise being that we didn’t score more points.
Rovers did well to hang in after being 20 points down before 20 minutes, with a cricket score on the cards. Some great tries scored but nonetheless a patchy performance after a great start.
Onto this week, we are being a little more proactive on the marketing front this season but I’m afraid the relaunch of the Locker Cup just doesn’t do it for me.
A little lazy on our behalf and very few, if any fans, I suspect will go wild at the thoughts of winning the “trophy.”
Credit to Leeds Rhinos who are slowly improving, but we were not at the races, it was a very disappointing performance, particularly defensively.
We started well in the Hull KR game, but then seemed to lose our way a bit, though they did well with the adversity they had before and during the game.
It was not ideal preparation for a big game this week.
It should be a cracker on Friday.
Warrington will know that if they lose it is unlikely they will make the play-offs this year, and with a few ex-players in both ranks, and the recent exchanges between Peet and Powell, it makes for a tasty contest.
We will miss Sam Powell defensively, just hope we can do enough.
I look forward to seeing the parade of ex-players, it’s nice to see them and recognise their contribution to our great club.
The less said about the Leeds defeat the better. We have to put it down as just one of those games most sides have during a season.
It’s clear that Leeds came out fired up and were much more aggressive than we were for the full 80 minutes.
Everything they tried came off, every pass stuck, every kick found its mark, it was a dream performance for them and a nightmare for us.
Some of the tries we conceded were very soft, it was a very unWigan-like defence. All we can do is hold our hands up, say the best team won and move on.
If you look at Salford thrashing Saints and Catalans blowing a 30-6 lead at home and losing to Leeds last weekend it’s clear it can happen to any team. The trick is to bounce back.
Against Hull KR, bounce back we did. As you would expect we started like a team on a mission.
Hull KR were a hugely depleted side through injury but you can only play what’s in front of you and we blew them away early on.
It’s a sign of a team in form and throwing the ball about if both your wingers are scoring hat tricks. For all the attention rightly bestowed on French and Field this season, Liam Marshall has been ultra consistent and deserved his three tries.
I would hope Liam is in line for a World Cup place at the end of the year, as there aren’t any wingers more consistent in Super League and his winning tries in the cup semi and final show he is a player for the big occasion.
We go into the Warrington game without a recognised hooker thanks to an injury to Sam Powell and yet another farcical ban from the RFL for Brad O’Neill, for what seemed unavoidable contact with the referee.
It is no surprise LMS escapes a ban for St Helens for the same “indiscretion”.
If there’s one thing the Disciplinary Committee are consistent about, it’s the inconsistency with their punishments.
It will be another tough game but one I think all Wigan fans would expect to win.
Warrington are conceding far too many points every week and it will all come down to our attitude over the full eighty minutes.
If we play as we did last week we should win relatively comfortably, if we play as we did against Leeds anything can happen.
I enjoyed the Locker Cup games of the eighties and early nineties. Despite being, in theory, a friendly, the games were anything but.
With the likes of Les Boyd, Paul Cullen, Brian Johnson and tough as teak Des Drummond on one side and Andy Goodway, Adrian Shelford, Dean Bell and Nicky Kiss on the other there were always fireworks aplenty.
It’s good to see the trophy return and it would be nice if a past player from both sides could bring the trophy out before the game or present it to the winner after the match.