SHAUN Wane saluted Pat Richards as he returned from injury to help propel Wigan closer to the league leaders’ shield.
The Australian winger bagged two tries and kicked five goals as the Warriors eased past Salford 38-6 – a victory which saw them extend their lead at the top of the ladder to three points, with two rounds remaining.
And it was the return of Richards after a four-month injury lay-off which delighted coach Wane, who said: “It’s great to have Pat back.
“He’s a big player in our team, no disrespect to Josh Charnley because he’s done a good job with the goal-kicking, but there were some kicks tonight you just knew Pat would hit.
“He played 40 minutes for our Under-20s last week and he felt ready, and I had no questions about putting him back in.”
Wane conceded their attack misfired at times but saluted the defensive effort, which restricted the Reds to just one try in the final minute.
He said: “After last week’s game (losing 30-10 to Warrington) I was into the players about their ‘D’, and they were great – the line-speed, the contact – I was pleased with that.
“That was the important thing for me.
“I’ll be into the players about our attack because at times, we were a bit loose, but at the same time I’m happy with the way we defended.”
Richards bagged two of their three first-half tries as Wigan established a 14-0 lead. Darrell Goulding, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes and Sean O’Loughlin also crossed.
Wigan have no game this weekend, owing to the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, before resuming their campaign at Hull KR on September 2.
And Wane says Thomas Leuluai and Stuart Fielden are both on course to return for that encounter.
While other squads are taking a few days break, Wane revealed his players will continue to train over the next two weeks.
“I might give them Bank Holiday Monday off,” he grinned.