Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam: 'I've changed completely as a coach'

Adrian Lam
Adrian Lam

Adrian Lam lifts the lid on some career flashpoints and his coaching style...

I remember exactly where I was when I decided I was going to retire from playing.

I was injured at the time, and Wigan were playing at Leeds. I was sat in a little dug-out, watching them bash each other – they were really going at it – and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’. It was a defining moment – until then I was unsure whether to retire or not. Funnily enough, my last game was at Leeds in the play-offs.

I was close to coming out of retirement for Wigan in 2005

I was coaching the Under-21s and the first-team were struggling, and it was a really tough time. So I thought about it and I was really, really close to it... but then they won three in a row and I thought: ‘Thank God for that’.

I convinced Kris Radlinski to come out of retirement

A year later, Wigan were struggling again and Rads had been asked to play again. He came out to Sydney and spoke to me about it, and I later emailed him a long letter – I get emotional now thinking of it – and he said that when he read it, he knew he had to do something. I basically reminded him what we got out of the club in terms of the memories we treasure, and he had a chance to give something back. I said if he could help keep the club up, what greater respect could he receive?

I always wanted to coach

I always felt I’d want to do it, because a lot of the teams I played in, I was running things in terms of directing them on the pitch.

Phil Gould said I should consider it – he told me I was one of the smartest players he’d worked with, and that gave me the confidence to do it.

I’ve changed the way I coach

Phil Gould used to go off his nut and break some players’ hearts, and I used to be like that because that’s what I was brought up on. But I’ve changed completely as a coach.

I read a great sign saying: ‘Before you spill your beans, take a breath and think’. I do that now.

I have a sixth sense...

When it comes to referees.

When I watch a game, I have a weird way of knowing when a ref is going to give a penalty. I can tell you before it happens.

Even now, I find myself doing it, watching a game on TV at home with no-one around to say: ‘I told you so’! But I’ve done it a lot of times with my mates and with my sons, I get a feel for a game.

The most satisfying part of coaching is...

Watching the young players develop. That’s what I’m about. And that’s why I’m trying hard to get them to play – they’re the future of this club, there’s no better nursery than here.

I like seeing all players develop and – as a coach – seeing the team play the way you’ve coached them to play, that’s a highlight. Working with players who are so emotionally invested in the club – and George Williams reminded me of that when he was crying last week, telling the boys about his move – is a highlight, too.

Some Wigan fans may not know...

But I played alongside Jason Robinson once. I joined the club in 2001, the season after he had left the club.

But in 1997, I captained a ‘Rest of the World’ team against Australia at Lang Park, and Jason and Gary Connolly flew out for it.

We spent the week together in Brisbane – I discovered then how much Gary loved life, loved his footy – and it was good to share a pitch with Jason.