Shaun Wane was walking through a New York market when a passer-by caught his eye.
The ‘American stranger’ had an uncanny resemblance to former coach Michael Maguire.
“I looked at this fella closely and I thought, ‘He looks like Madge’,” said Wane. “I honestly thought it was an American who looked like him.
“So I shouted out, ‘Madge’, just in case – sure enough, he turned around, looked at me for ages and said, ‘Waney!?’.
“The odds of seeing him.... we were only in New York for two days, had no idea he was there, but we had a good chat and it was great to see him. He still watches most of our games and he still follows us. He was pleased with what we achieved last season.”
‘The odds of seeing him... we were only in New York for two days!’Shaun Wane
What can we say about last season?
Ah... the doubts, the shock defeats, the injuries, the spills, the attack. Then, of course, the comebacks, the guts, the character, the thrills, the celebrations and, of course, the Grand Final.
It was a title victory which Wane labelled his greatest professional achievement.
But the win, he says, has had little bearing or impact on their preparations this year.
“If we’d lost to Warrington by two points, would it have made it a bad season? I’m not so sure,” he said. “I know this sport is all about results, but that game could have gone either way and I’m just glad it went ours, because it was the best feeling ever.
“But it doesn’t change what we do, how hard we work, how many hours we put in here.”
Surely, though, the fact they won with a depleted squad would swell his confidence of winning more trophies this year?
“I know it’d be impossible to have a season like last year, with injuries. So I’m looking forward to that!” he smiled.
“I feel confident, but speak to every Super League coach and they’ll be confident at this time of year. It’s only when the games start you realise where you’re really at.
“I look at the other teams and I see a tough competition. Warrington will be strong, Leeds will be a lot better – they’ve too many good players not to. Across the board there are quality teams.”
His positivity cuts with the underwhelming build-up to this campaign, which has seen the influx from the NRL recede and some of Super League’s best players – such as top tryscorer Denny Solomona – depart.
“If someone goes, it’s an opportunity for someone else, that’s the way I look at it,” said Wane. “I look at what we can control. I try and make it attractive as I can for our players like Sutty (Ryan Sutton) and George (Williams), it’s not just always about spending money, but making the environment enjoyable.”