Wigan Warriors- The 18th man: ‘Without doubt Ellery Hanley is the greatest player I’ve seen in cherry and white’

The 18th man contributors pick out their top five Wigan Warriors players from their time watching the club.

By Amos Wynn
Sunday, 31st July 2022, 3:00 pm

Robert Kenyon

1. Terry Newton was quick out of dummy half, fast distribution from the floor, accurate passer, he would keep his eyes open and play what was in front of him.

He could hit hard in defence, and was one of the best support players I've ever seen. He was always backing up someone who broke the line.

Ellery Hanley

2. Trent Barrett was an injection of class, he was a Rolls Royce and worth every penny we paid for him.

I’d never seen a player before, maybe even since, drag a team around a pitch as much as he did, he was involved in everything.

3. Andy Farrell for years was our talisman, a real leader to get the rest of the team going. A sure fire kicker from the tee and out of his hands, his game changed throughout his career but his long cut out passes were phenomenal.

4. Sam Tomkins was untouchable in 2012, everything he touched turned to gold. He could make a try from nothing and he was competitive, all the opposition fans hated him which is the sign of a great player. Should never have left.

5. The 5 spot always changes, from Kelvin Skerrett to Kris Radlinski to Blake Green to Pat Richards to Gareth Hock or Liam Farrell, at this moment in time I'd have to say George Carmont.

He was classy, he could attack and defend, I wish we could clone him and have 3 of him in the squad right now.

Jon Lyon

Choosing your top five players is like trying to choose a favourite child… and “apparently” I’m not allowed to do that.

I’ve been watching Wigan since 1985 so will have to pick from then onwards, otherwise undoubtedly the likes of Boston, Sullivan and Ashton would have made the list.

1. Number one choice by quite some way is Ellery Hanley.

Without doubt the greatest player I’ve seen in cherry and white. Hanley had everything you could want from a player and captain.

His will to win was second to none and whenever Wigan were struggling, which wasn’t that often in his day, he would always pull something out of the bag.

The amount of times he carried three or four tacklers over the line with him showed just how strong a player he was, and he had an amazing ability to run diagonally forward evading defenders faster than most players could run straight.

His try against St Helens in the 1989 cup final is Hanley in a nutshell, beating six players without any defender laying a finger on him.

The next four could be placed in any order.

2. Despite the manner of him turning down the coaching role, Shaun Edwards should always be revered as a player for Wigan.

Like Hanley, Shaun hated losing and would often play through terrible injuries for the good of the team, with the 1990 Challenge Cup Final being the most famous.

Playing most of the game with a fractured cheekbone and eye socket showed just what Wigan winning meant to him.

Shaun was the ultimate support player, despite what the Sky team and their love of Danny McGuire will tell you.

Whenever anyone made a break you could guarantee Shaun would be on their shoulder waiting to poach another try.

His development from fullback to stand off, to ultimately scrum-half and captain showed how versatile he was and he led the team through actions and words, and 41 winners medals is not to be sniffed at either.

3. Kris Radlinski is, for me, the greatest fullback who has played the game.

People talk about Billy Slater, Garry Jack, Darren Lockyer and many others, but while some may have been better at one aspect of the game, as a complete fullback Radlinski had everything.

He was imperious under the high ball, was a phenomenal attacker chiming into the line regularly to build up an impressive try scoring record and his one on one defence was impeccable.

I enjoyed seeing him drag a breakaway winger into touch just as much as seeing Robinson or Offiah score a try. He was, and still is, the ultimate selfless club man.

4. Brett Kenny, although only with us briefly, was as sublime a player as you could wish to see.

His languid style made him appear uninterested at times but as he showed in the 1985 Challenge Cup Final, when he got the ball in his hands he was almost unplayable.

He had a great short and long passing game as he showed creating tries for both Edwards and Gill in that final, and when he put his foot down, not many players could catch him, such a beautifully balanced runner.

5. How do you choose between Andy Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin? You can't… so I won’t.

My final pick will have to be Andy Gregory. Looking the unlikeliest of rugby legends, the short, stocky Gregory was the greatest passer of a ball I have seen.

Tough as teak, Gregory took on the line and was regularly battered for it, but never gave an inch in attack and defence, and with his soft, short passes always on the mark and an impeccable short kicking game, he was the perfect scrum-half.

Darren Wrudd

Again I am faced with a dilemma, how on earth am I qualified to select Wigan's best five players of all time, so I am narrowing the field somewhat and sticking to those I saw play and perhaps a little favouritism thrown in too.

Of course, Kris Radlinski has to be in there.

A more dependable fullback or devastating attacking threat I can’t remember seeing, even with this year's crop of talent.

Not a one season wonder but a cornerstone of Wigan for more than a decade, we are lucky to have him at the club still and his integrity is a shining light in the game.

Andrew Farrell does not usually make my lists of favourites but as an all time great he has to be in with a shout.

I lose count of the times where he would, almost single handed, pick the team up by the scruff and drag them to a win by sheer determination.

An amazing leader who would captain the team his own way which often meant giving the lads a very public dressing down if mistakes were made.

As a spot kicker he had a lovely touch and it is easy to see where his son has got the coaching from. Tough goes without saying for most players but Faz was a hard man to put down. A born leader on the field for many years he simply was Wigan.

Dialling the years back a little I can honestly say that we have rarely witnessed a sublime talent that was Ellery Hanley.

I would say that Ellery was responsible for much of the way we approach the game in modern times.

He knew just how important energy management was and had such an intricate knowledge of the tactical side of professional rugby league, he could just sense things around the game and was a joy to behold in full flight.

From this the techniques of today's athletes have developed and grown and you often see a flash of Ellery’s magic in an impossible pass or dummy that leaves an opponent looking flat footed and stationary.

Not sure we will see the likes of him again, he was certainly a star of the era.

When Pat Richards first arrived at Wigan it was obvious that he was not quite yet the superstar we had been expecting.

But factor into that he moved halfway around the world and would take some time to feel settled.

It is a part of this game that I think is overlooked and it must be a huge wrench and culture shock to have to deal with, while playing in the spotlight.

In the years that he was here, Pat quickly became a fans favourite. Kicker extraordinaire he could slot them over from anywhere and that lanky relaxed looking sprinting stride he had was an optical illusion as he could almost fly.

The fans' tribute said it all, as the chant ‘Richards is Super Man' rang out around the stadium.

My final selection would be Sean O’Loughlin. As a youngster breaking into the squad, he could cut through a defence with that trademark curved run leaving sprawling tacklers in his wake.

Initially under the shadow of his famous brother in law, O’Loughlin soon began to plough his own furrow.

When he was handed the Captaincy as a very young man, I wondered if it was the right decision, as did many others but what do I know, I’m only a speccie.

No longer did we see Captain Faz rollocking his squad under the sticks for conceding a try, Sean seemed a man of few words but he made up for it in actions.

A tougher, more dedicated sportsman it would be difficult to find. His quality and determination shone through at every level and he became one of the most respected exponents of the game both here and down under.

A Wigan player for he whole career, Lockers is such a humble and decent lad to boot and I have been lucky to get to know him a little over the years.

Yes, we have been lucky over the last few decades as a club. Some of the greatest players in the world come here to wear our colours, but Sean O’Loughlin is certainly up there with the best of them in every way.

Glynn Bradshaw

For somebody who has watched the Warriors for over fifty years this was a tough one, but I have gone with players I have seen over the years, so I have not picked the likes of Boston, Jim Sullivan etc.

1. Ellery Hanley- Unbelievable player, personally the best I have seen, the season he scored 59 tries was amazing.

2. Andy Farrell- Great hands, great kicking game, great captain. We used to say virtually every game: “How good is Andy Farrell.”

3. Sean O’Loughlin- A true Wigan great, speaks volumes when virtually every overseas player he played with at the DW said he would have smashed it in the NRL.

4. Martin Offiah- The try scoring record speaks for itself, fastest man I ever saw on a rugby field.

5. Andy Gregory- The little general was the architect of so much of the successful play in his time at Wigan, and who could forget the half time remark to John Monie when he pulled him up about his defence and he said: “Look at me John, would you run at me?”