Former Wigan captain Dean Bell thinks the Warriors need to “find consistency” to challenge for silverware this term.
The club legend, who enjoyed a trophy-laden eight years at Central Park between 1986 and 1994, thinks his old side have the capability to challenge for this year’s title.
But he reckons his good mate Shaun Wane has areas which need to be addressed before the season careers into the race for the Old Trafford Grand Final.
Bell, manager of the NRL’s New Zealand Warriors until April this year, keeps a close eye on Super League, especially the fortunes of Wigan, and was candid in his assessment of the season so far.
Speaking from New Zealand, he told the Observer: “They have to find the consistency because that’s eluded them this year.
“At times they can be outstanding and other times they can be very average. That doesn’t need me to say but the Warrington game was a very disappointing performance.”
At times they can be outstanding and other times they can be very averageDean Bell
Bell admits Wigan struggle without the influence of captain Sean O’Loughlin, a position Bell held for three of his seven Challenge Cup Final victories, but the man fans called ‘Mean Dean’ for his no-nonsense style thinks the prognosis is not as bleak as last week’s loss might suggest.
“There are obviously some big-game players there but they are missing Sean O’Loughlin quite a bit,” he said.
“He has a very big influence on the way the team plays but there’s enough experience and flair there to get it back.
“They are there or thereabouts – they just need the consistency.”
Despite Wigan’s poor away record in Super League this year, the 2013 double winners still sit in third place and are poised to make a realistic challenge for a third Grand Final appearance in a row.
And Bell thinks it would be unrealistic to expect any of the top sides to cruise into the Super 8s phase without any hiccups.
He said: “You’re not going to win all your games all the time but obviously if you are being consistent that’s something – and that’s been hard to get in the last few months at Wigan really.”