'The Wigan Warriors' contract announcement which pleased me the most' - Talking RL

Wigan fans may not have been shocked by the bombardment of announcements from the club yesterday.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 11:31 am
Morgan Smithies has signed a new deal

But I imagine many of them were still welcomed.

The reaction of the Castleford fans suggests Mitch Clark will be a good signing.

I've been saying for weeks the pack certainly needs some punch, and Kris Radlinski reckons Clark can be one of Super League's most destructive forwards - no pressure, then!

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Jake Bibby certainly caught my eye in Salford's destruction of Catalans earlier this season though, being honest, I've not seen enough of him before or since to comment.

But for me, the best news was the retention of Joe Burgess and Morgan Smithies.

Budgie has never shied away from admitting he wants another crack at the NRL at some stage, and the fact he has only signed for one more year suggests he may be looking Down Under down the track.

I hesitate to say I'm 'delighted' - because every press release about a new signing seems to include that word - but I am, genuinely, delighted he'll be at Wigan until the end of next season.

His left-edge link-up with Oliver Gildart is potent - the best in the league, on their day, and certainly the best homegrown centre-wing combination I've seen at the Warriors.

As for Smithies, he is only 18, but every indication is he is poised for a big future.

He has the physical attributes, the skills, the attitude, and that fearless Scrappy-Doo streak which reminds me of a young John Bateman. Imagine how disappointing it would have been if, after a few games, he signed for another club in Super League or the NRL?

Indeed, with Wigan tying him down to a a four-year deal, his retention was the announcement which pleased me the most yesterday.

Wigan have yet to state their intentions with Sean O'Loughlin and Thomas Leuluai.

And yes, I still think Wigan need a couple of big-name additions. I hope they manage to get Jackson Hastings on board as a replacement for George Williams, whose move to Canberra has yet to be confirmed.

But there was a lot to like about yesterday's confirmations. Even if, given many had been previously reported, they didn't come as a surprise.

I’ve not really bought into the ‘Wigan injury crisis’ rhetoric this season, because many of their big hitters have been present and accounted for, and many of their absentees weren’t much better than the players filling in for them.

My point is, the issue hasn't been down to missing personnel as much as the frequent chopping and changing which has led to them appearing disjointed and clunky.

But there’s no doubting Liam Farrell has been a big loss over the last few weeks.

John Bateman departed in the off-season – great to see him killing it at Canberra - and the last thing Adrian Lam needed was the exit of another England second-rower so soon into the campaign.

Farrell is one of those rare breed of players who, as highly as fans and commentators rate, seems to be held in an even higher esteem by his team-mates and opponents.

I think it’s because they put a bigger value on consistency than us mere mortals, and Faz is seven or eight out of 10 every week.

It’ll be good to see him back in the side against Hull KR on Sunday – facing Joel Tomkins, a player who needs no introduction to Wigan fans.

This isn’t ‘must-win’ in the true sense – but a victory would be the perfect tonic after three successive defeats.

Expect a burst of enthusiasm from Hull KR on Sunday; the appointment of a new coach normally motivates players to try and impress.

There was a joke Smith got the job so the Robins coach hand him Tim Sheens' old, TS-inscribed training gear! It was obviously a joke, because Smith is a smart operator who has won two Grand Finals and coached England.

But Tim Sheens has won four Grand Finals and coached Australia. He was a very good operator, too.

Is it possible Hull KR aren't, actually, under-performing, and are where they are because it's a reflection of the quality of their squad?

Hull KR announced the capture of coach Tony Smith on Twitter with a link to - and I'll keep their capitals - a WORLD EXCLUSIVE FIRST INTERVIEW.

Wow. A WORLD EXCLUSIVE FIRST INTERVIEW with one of their own employees. What a scoop!

James Roberts started training at Wayne Bennett’s Souths on Monday.

Which may have come as a surprise to anyone who believed Bennett last month when, asked about reports of Roberts joining, said: “It starts with you (journalists) sitting in coffee rooms and thinking, ‘What am I going to make up today?’”