SHAUN Wane last night defiantly stood by his comments about Nathan Brown – despite the St Helens coach’s attempts to defuse the row.
A war of words broke out after Friday’s derby defeat, in which Brown claimed his side had “copped it up the backside” from referee Phil Bentham after Wane pressured officials by “whinging for the last two months”. At his weekly media conference yesterday, the Australian appeared to backtrack by suggesting “Wigan had copped some tough decisions in the last four or five weeks.”
He went on to praise Bentham – and call Wane a “good, decent bloke”.
But if Brown was attempting to calm the storm, it did little to pacify Wane.
He phoned his Saints counterpart over the weekend to confront him about his post-match outburst and – while he didn’t divulge details of their private conversation – he is standing by the remarks he made following their 16-12 defeat.
Wane told the Evening Post: “I’m still offended by what Nathan said, I still think it’s a disgrace.
“I’m not changing my mind. And I’m still offended by what he said before the World Club... I took that as an insult, because we coach the players correct tackle technique here.”
At the start of the year, Brown described a high tackle by Ben Flower during a pre-season friendly as “standard with their front-rowers.” Yesterday he insisted there was no problem between them.
Brown added: “I’m not surprised at all at Waney’s reaction.
“He’s a passionate bloke who loves Wigan and, regardless of what’s been said, I still feel the same about him as I did two weeks ago.
“I’ve always found him to be a good, decent bloke. It’s nothing personal.”
Brown said he had sympathy with officials but stood by his opinion that Bentham unduly influenced the derby.
“Being a referee is the worst job in the world – it’s unforgiving. It’s like being Prime Minister. You’re never going to keep everyone happy,” he said.
“But I was well within my rights to want the game refereed 50/50.
“Wigan had copped some tough decisions in the last four or five weeks and I was concerned that those things could fall back to hurt us, which, as a club, I don’t think we deserve.
“My concern was the referee faltering a little bit – not deliberately – just through pressure, and I felt that’s what may have happened.
“He didn’t give us anything – not deliberately, it just happened. I don’t think Phil had his best day. But do I still think he’s a good referee and would I like him to referee us again – 100 per cent.”