Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam on 'outrageous' timing of rule clampdown
Young firebrand Ollie Partington returns to the Wigan side for the derby – with a green light to continue getting under opponents’ skin.
And Adrian Lam says it is “outrageous” to implement a clamp-down on players patting opponents’ heads now, so close to the end of the season.
Prop Partington served a one-match ban for striking with the arm against Castleford, but he was also cautioned by the judiciary for patting the head of Paul McShane.
And last week, centre Oliver Gildart conceded a penalty for tapping the head of Salford counterpart Kris Welham after he made an error.
Clubs had received a memo warning them ungentlemanly conduct would be punished, something which Lam questioned the timing of.
“I was a bit angry about that call (on Gildart), they’ve not penalised that all year and they do it in the play-offs?” said Lam.
“It’s outrageous. If you want to do that, warn players and do it from the start.
“We got emails about it but my point is...it’s all well and good doing (a clampdown), but it’s hard... it takes players time to change.
“Do it at the start, but not in the first round of the finals.”
League legend Garry Schofield labelled Partington as “disrespectful” after he removed McShane’s strapping and rubbed his head.
“The kid is a quality player, he puts his body on the line and that’s what I love about him,” Schofield told the Forty20 podcast.
“He’s got the skills – but let me give him some advice: ‘You don’t need that rubbish in your game’.
“Do not be showing a lack of respect by patting players on the head. It’s totally disrespectful.
“One thing’s for sure, if he’d have done that to Lee Crooks or Karl Harrison or Les Boyd, he’d be going to the dentist and getting six teeth replaced.”
While Lam admits Partington “probably doesn’t need to do that”, he won’t tell him to change his ways.
“He can show his aggression in other ways, but I just love everything about him,” said the coach.
“I don’t want to tell him not to be different because you don’t get that in every player. It’s hard to find.
"He’s come a long way and he’s still a kid. Teams will be coming after him soon... and he’s excited about that, too.”
Lam added: “I love it when there’s a bit of niggle, a bit of banter – even between clubs and coaches and players.
“We’re an aggressive, contact sport, egos getting shortened very quickly... we don’t need to go soft all of a sudden.”
Partington’s return could force another forward – such as Liam Byrne – out of the mix, while hooker Sam Powell has been included in the 19-man squad after a recent wrist injury. Kick-off tomorrow is 7.45pm.