In the second segment of this week's 18th man column, Wigan Warriors fans discuss tomorrow's clash at Castleford and the future of the reserves...
What do you expect at Cas’ tomorrow night?
Sean Lawless: Paul McShane being banned is a huge boost for Wigan and the momentum from the past two weeks could give Wigan a better chance of winning. When you look at the Cas’ team, it isn’t one that is full of superstars, but they execute their plan extremely well. It’s a massive task for Wigan and a true barometer of whether they have truly turned the corner this season. I am hopefully of another plucky Wigan win.
Robert Kenyon: Castleford will be smarting after the defeat to Leeds but I’m hoping we have clicked and we can beat them by playing good rugby. I reckon Hardaker will get a frosty reception at Wheldon Road, but that will spur him on, he’ll get man of the match I reckon just to rub it in. What I’d like from the game is to kick on so that we have moved up a gear ready for Good Friday.
Jeanette Lusher: We never find it easy going to Castleford do we? It’s a small pitch where vociferous fans are very much on top of the players. Fans who will most certainly make plenty of noise whenever Zac is involved. The Castleford team, like Wigan, has had to deal with several injuries but to its credit Castleford still sits third in the league so Wigan must be respectful and not complacent. I do however feel that the loss of McShane to suspension may well be a bridge too far and may well swing the scales our way. This and our huge upturn in confidence and form along with better discipline and composure should secure us the victory.
Jon Lyon: Castleford have had a tough start with injuries, and McShane’s suspension will be a huge loss to them, but they are always competitive. They were unlucky to lose to Leeds with the latest Golden Point winner, but with the confidence we should be taking from nilling Catalans and playing some great attacking rugby, we should be looking for nothing less than a win. The loss of Gabe Hamlin, frustratingly for non-rugby reasons, is offset by the return of Joe Greenwood, who will hopefully continue his fine form of late. A key match up will be Ben Flower against Liam Watts, both playing well and both looking to make the Great Britain squad at the end of the year. I’m backing Benny to get the better of this one and lead us to a close victory.
Darren Wrudd: Much the same really. A dour looking coach with a team who play with a chip on their shoulder born from a title that should have been theirs a couple of years back.
Playing against the champions they will want to make a statement and on their day, they are good enough to do it.
A tough game is forecast, with the usual fire and brimstone thrown in for good measure just to try and wind us up. It will be their only chance if we are as disciplined as last week.
Kris Radlinski says it is “crazy” there is no compulsory reserves. Agree?
Sean Lawless: Reserves should be compulsory; how can we hope to grow a sport domestically and internationally when we are saying that those who haven’t “made it” by the age of 20 and effectively lost from the talent pool. We don’t have the structure within rugby league to allow those types of players to really strive and achieve in the lower leagues and the dual-registration system isn’t particularly great. Bringing back the reserve grade is an absolute must for 2020.
Robert Kenyon: Yes, barmy. It should be compulsory for a team in Super League to have a 16s, 19s and reserves. They’d get people coaching and playing for free, they just want the opportunity to showcase their skills and get signed up or play first team, I don’t see why teams don’t do it?
With Robert Elstone now in charge, he seems to have a bit of common sense about him so it may be something they bring in in the next couple of seasons.
Jeanette Lusher: It’s a no brainer! There should be funding made available and it should be compulsory for every Super League team to have a reserves side. It should be scholarship, academy and reserves as the stepping stones to a first team place and the possibility of playing at international level!
This type of structure would give young players a definite career pathway to follow. Surely there is also a duty of care aspect in that a reserves league would reduce the stress and panic of trying to make the grade by the age of 19 and it would stop some youngsters from regarding themselves as failures or drop outs when in reality they may simply be late developers.
It would put an end to young promising players over 19 being thrown in at the deep end by having to leave their parent club to play, on loan, in the Championship against stronger, street wise men! A reserves side would also provide an avenue of relative safety to senior players returning from injury to get some game time and body confidence before being thrown into the full rigours of first team footy.
Jon Lyon: I have never spoken to anyone who doesn’t think reserves should be compulsory.
I know there is a cost issue, but I struggle to believe most if not all teams couldn’t afford to run a reserve grade, particularly when you look at the long term cost of recruitment having lost local talent who can’t get a game purely because of their age.
It seems more and more likely reserves will be compulsory next year, though that decision needs making sooner rather than later to allow organisation.
Only Leeds seem to be really against the idea, but that will surprise no-one, as Gary Hetherington always seems to think he knows best.
Darren Wrudd: It seems the RFL have been to LaLa land and back again over this issue.
It is ludicrous our top tier of rugby league in Britain, does not have a vehicle to bring the youngsters through the system and incompetent that the RFL washed their hands of the decision by offering the clubs the chance to save some cash by voting against it.
If the RFL made it compulsory for every Super League team to field a reserves squad, the game would improve year on year and many of the talented lads who are being lost from the game would certainly make it to the top. Rads is absolutely spot on.