'Wigan Warriors have the best back-line in Super League' - the 18th man column (part I)
In the first segment of this week's 18th man column, these Wigan Warriors fans reflect on last Sunday's 42-0 win against Catalans...
Adrian Lam says Wigan have the best back-five in Super League. Agree?
Sean Lawless: Whether Wigan have the best back five in Super League is probably something that Warrington and St Helens may have something to say about. What Wigan do have is an envious and ever-growing squad which is the best in Super League. The performances from Partington, Paisley and Smithies at the weekend only confirms that further.
Robert Kenyon: Based on that performance you couldn’t argue with him, they certainly have the potential to be but need the consistency now. Moving Gildart and Sarginson to left and right centre respectively has got the best out of them, especially with Gildart pairing up with Burgess, they’re like Stepbrothers. Hardaker just needed time to gel and get his match fitness up and he’s showing how good of a player he is now, he’s great to watch. Plus Manfredi and Burgess are quality international wingers who can make tries from anything. Ask me that question again in three months and I’d give you a definitive answer.
Jeanette Lusher: On Sunday’s performance it would be hard to disagree with Adrian. Our back five ripped Catalans to shreds in astounding fashion. Zac is rapidly getting back to his best. I find I don’t hold my breath when a high ball goes up because Zac is just so competent. He takes the ball up well and links into the attacking line effectively and yet he defends superbly. His goal kicking, well, it is definitely the icing on the cake. Dan and Oli make the hard yards, make the breaks and show a really nice turn of pace indeed. Joe is hungry and takes his tryscoring opportunities with much enthusiasm while Dom diffuses kicks with confidence and aplomb and makes good hard yards up field. It is frightening, for the opposition, to think that with increasing game time this back five will get even better!
Jon Lyon: When they’re all fit and on form it’s hard to argue. Individually there are some very talented backs spread across the league, with the likes of Johnstone, Tupou, Percival, Makinson, Connor, Evalds, Charnley, Ratchford and Watkins all having fair claim to a place in the Dream Team. As a group at one club though, Wigan’s backs are exceptional, and with Escare, Marshall and Davies as back up we are very handily placed to bring on Lam’s more attacking style.
Darren Wrudd: Best back line in Super League, now that’s a big call but one that I would tend to agree with. Now that we have got our starting backs in place and getting towards full fitness, I expect great things from them this season. Anyone who watches the display from last weekend would be in little doubt either. If you could not get to the game, have a look on Wigan TV and you will see what all the fuss is about. One great performance though does not make a best in league status, we have to back it up and give the rest something to worry about.
What pleased you most about the win against Catalans?
Sean Lawless: When the team sheet came out and Wigan have a very youthful bench and changed back row, coming up against the likes of Greg Bird – I feared the worst. However, the youngsters stood up to a much more experienced and bigger pack and dominated. It was a fantastic and unexpected, team performance on Sunday.
Robert Kenyon: I’m pleased about the standard of rugby on display and our kicking game. I was also pleased with the amount of young lads who stepped up in the forwards and played themselves into the team for this weeks game in my opinion. I don’t see how you could change the team that beat Catalans after that score, may as well carry on.
Jeanette Lusher: It was pleasing to nil the opposition. It is no mean feat to do this against any side but possibly more so against Catalans given their team of talented, experienced and high-profile players. It was even more pleasing to see the attacking moves coming to fruition giving us a tasty insight into the new systems. It is a mouthwatering prospect to think that with a settled 17 and dry pitches things can only get better! Really pleasing was the excellent play by both of our wingers and the extra edge and confidence that they have brought to the team.
It’s like putting the final two pieces into a jigsaw! However, what pleased me the most was how so many youngsters from our youth system settled seamlessly into the team, were fearless and dealt with the opposition so effectively.
Jon Lyon: Defensively we were very solid, although I was disappointed with how little Catalans threw at us. After a tough first half, our backs ran riot and it was one of those games where everything came off, every interception, every pass, and it was great to watch after the tough start we have had to the season. The young lads who came into the team were exceptional.
I was a bit worried beforehand how they would cope against some huge players like Casty, Moa and Kasiano, but no-one took a backward step and they should be incredibly proud of their performances. I also thought Sammut was sensational, taking a leaf out of Tommy Leuluai’s book with his defensive effort and his passing and footwork were a delight to watch.
Darren Wrudd: The backs were running rampant and it would have been easy to be able to afford to let a couple of scores in against us, but the young lads who were given their chance, shone like the brightest prospects for the future of this club.
Young Morgan Smithies was stunningly good and showed Greg Bird no respect for his reputation as he faced off against the grumpy old Aussie. Morgan’s defence was fearless and his attention to detail belied his lack of first team experience. That pleased me the most, that we didn’t settle for a score, but held them out and pressed our advantage.
Click here for the second part of our 18th man column