KRIS Radlinski is confident the “gamble” of Wigan’s London adventure will pay off.
Warriors have made the bold move to surrender home advantage this weekend by taking their Super 8s showdown with Catalans to London.
The move forms part of the club’s ambition to strengthen its profile, fan-base and commercial links in the capital.
But some supporters have criticised the decision to leave the DW Stadium.
They not only cite travel and expense for fans, but question the logic of taking a game away from a ground where Wigan are unbeaten in Super League in more than a year.
Rugby manager Radlinski understands their frustrations, and is sympathetic to those fans who will miss Saturday’s clash at Millwall’s The Den. But the legendary full-back believes the short-term pain will be off-set by the long-term gains.
“We know why we’re doing it – to promote the brand of Wigan and the game in London,” he said.
“But I can sense and understand the frustration of some of the Wigan fans as well, especially when you consider some of our away form this year.
“When you make a decision like this, you will ruffle a few feathers.
“But we never want to be a sport which wants to survive. We want to push it further.
“I know certainly, us as a club, we don’t want to just survive. We want to keep growing.”
Radlinski says their business club – run from a Warriors office on Buckingham Palace Road – has already proved successful.
“A big one is the corporate sponsorship,” he said.
“Some of the businesses we have got already, we’d have never thought achievable in Wigan.” And with Wigan previously drawing strong support from fans in London for Broncos games, he hopes it will lead to a crowd of around 10,000 – a similar figure had the game been kept at the DW.
“Everyone knows the Wigan brand, it’s still as strong as ever, and that’s why I think the RFL has got behind this,” he said.
“With what happened in the past, it has made Wigan a household name. That’s definitely still there.
“There are a lot of rugby league fans (in London)who genuinely enjoy a good game, and that’s what I think we’ll get.
“Winning this game is massively important.
“It’s ambitious, but if we get (a crowd) around the 10,000 mark, it would be a real success.”
He praised host club Millwall for their support. A fans’ village will be running before kick-off.
Season ticket holders are reminded they have until tomorrow to claim their ticket exchange from the DW Stadium office.