The 18th Man Column: With the fixtures we have coming I’m looking up the table rather than down

Wigan beat Leeds 34-16 in February. SWPix
Wigan beat Leeds 34-16 in February. SWPix

Wigan Warriors fans have their say

Wigan are four points off the top-five and the same off the bottom spot – are you looking up or over the shoulder?

Robert Kenyon: Looking over our shoulder. If we were playing well and had a bit of momentum, I’d be looking up, but we just haven’t clicked. I don’t see us getting relegated no matter how bad we get, I think London will go down. Out of these five games, we need to win at least three to keep the season respectable, all five to be serious contenders. But if truth be told we need to gel and gather some momentum if we are to do anything. We beat Hull KR so there’s one down, four to go.

Jon Lyon: With the fixtures we have coming up I am definitely looking upwards.

The next four games are all winnable and then, following the away trip to Saints, we have five of the last seven games at home.

If we can just string together a more cohesive attack, which the return of Liam Farrell should help with on our left edge, there is every reason to be optimistic that we can salvage something from what has been a very hit and miss season to date.

Darren Wrudd: Even though it might be prudent to do so, I don’t usually consider the lower half of the table as habit makes me look up every time. There are teams above us on merit who simply should not be.

That is our own fault to a large extent, and something we are quite capable of correcting. All we need is a bit of luck on the injury front and some consistency of play...sounds easy really doesn’t it!

I don’t honestly think we will be in the relegation battle this year but we will have to go some to challenge the top teams.

Which of Wigan’s contract announcements last Thursday pleased you the most?

Robert Kenyon: Morgan Smithies. He’s shown a lot of potential and is a tough cookie, much like John Bateman, and it’s good to tie him down to a four-year deal. He’s full of enthusiasm and aggression and it’s good to see. I’m disappointed and pleased about Joe Burgess, it’s great he’s stopping but the length of the deal worries me slightly.

Jon Lyon: The signing of Joe Burgess is huge, as he is a wonderful winger and has a great partnership with Oliver Gildart.

It’s a shame he’s only signed for one year, which I presume is due to his desire to give the NRL another crack, but one year is better than none and I’m delighted he’s staying.

The long-term contract for Morgan Smithies is also a great deal for Wigan, and I hope he continues to progress and isn’t whisked off to Australia too soon.

Darren Wrudd: It was pleasing to see some senior players show they are happy to be here, and Tony Clubb’s comments that Wigan is now his home, even when he retires from the game, says something about the club and fans.

But my good friend Dave Hurst and I were discussing the previous week the possibilities that young Morgan Smithies might be something really special.

We agreed we should sign him up for as long as we can get, and behold a four-year contract appears which means we get our wish to watch this talented young lad progress and grow. Now that’s an exciting prospect.

The Sun appears to have boycotted rugby league – does it matter?

Robert Kenyon: Yes. Any national newspaper boycotting or sport has negative consequences for us.

But looking to the future there’s social media now, if we can do a good job of our social media account then it won’t matter.

Not as many people buy newspapers nowadays, they choose to read news online so there are other ways of getting publicity if The Sun has boycotted rugby league. I suppose it’s something the RFL would need to take up with them.

Jon Lyon: As a Liverpool fan of 35 years, my opinion of The S*n will be similar to many. From a moral perspective I really couldn’t care less if the paper folded tomorrow. I certainly would never read it so the coverage in the paper, or lack of it, will never affect me.

From our sport’s viewpoint though I imagine we need all coverage we can get, and I feel for Gary Carter if this will affect his livelihood.

The RFL, and The S*n themselves must have known in advance that The S*n’s reporters would not have been allowed into Anfield, so surely this should have been addressed before Magic Weekend, not after.

Darren Wrudd: To me, no – I cannot remember the last time if ever that I read the tabloid.

For the game as a whole, we surely must strive for better coverage all round the media and the right kind of coverage is just as important.

Preaching to the converted I know, but our game really is special. With the right emphasis on media it could grow and cross many boundaries both geographical and socially. So big picture, yes, we need to keep pressing for inclusion.

What do you expect from Leeds tomorrow?

Robert Kenyon: An 80-minute performance and we’d better match it. Both us and Leeds have been scrappy all season and haven’t clicked into gear, although Leeds have won their last two games so they might have just done that. However, with temporary coach Richard Agar in charge and a few players unsettled, this could be a win for us, IF we play to our potential and play as a team.

We have beaten Leeds already and can do it again. There aren’t the force they once was and, with everything that’s going on at Headingley, we can take advantage and nick a win.

Jon Lyon: Despite scraping two wins in their last two games, I still don’t see too many positives at the moment for Leeds.

It seems years of replacing top-class players with average or overhyped recruits has caught up with them all at once.

Their so-called star signings from Australia have for the most part disappointed and Handley, Sutcliffe, Singleton and Donaldson are a shadow of the likes of Hall, McGuire, Peacock and Sinfield.

We need to take advantage of their poor form and low confidence and get stuck into them from the off, and not take our foot off the pedal for the full 80 minutes.

We have enough class in our backline to score plenty points, and need the forwards to do the hard work to batter the Leeds pack into submission.

As always we also need to reduce the number of handling errors and penalties we give away. Do this and I would expect a win by at least 18 points, though I would take another Sam Powell drop goal if necessary, if he can pull another pearler from his bag of tricks.

Darren Wrudd: Leeds v Wigan has always been a fiery encounter and this will be no exception.

The Yorkshire puddings will be all out to get their season back on track and, although they are possibly the worst Rhinos team of the Super League era, they can still trouble us if we don’t turn up to play.

Conditions will play a huge part and dropped ball might make or break the game for either side, but all things equal I would expect us to win with a decent score.