If there were an award in Super League for breakthrough star of the year, the odds are it would go to Wigan winger Liam Marshall.
In light of so many injuries at the reigning Super League champions, Marshall’s form has been phenomenal, taking his chance at the top level with both hands.
So in our weekly analysis blog, we’ve spotlighted Marshall’s Super League form and decided to compare it to the breakthrough years of some of his predecessors in a Wigan shirt on the wing. It makes for interesting reading..
Liam Marshall’s debut season (2017)
Following injuries to the likes of Joe Burgess and Dom Manfredi, Marshall was handed his chance relatively early, featuring in the Round Three victory against Leigh Centurions.
He’s made 16 appearances in a Warriors shirt so far in 2017 in the league, and has an incredible 18 tries – meaning he’s scoring more than a try a game.
However, what’s interesting here is that, in stark contrast to some of his predecessors, Marshall has been playing in a side predominantly struggling to win games. In fact, Wigan have won just five of the 16 league games Marshall has played in, making his try-scoring feats even more impressive.
Marshall’s 2017 stats: Games 17, Tries 20: Tries Per Game: 1.18
Josh Charnley’s breakthrough season (2011)
After being in and around the Wigan first-team in 2010 – and spending some time out on loan with Hull Kingston Rovers – Josh Charnley truly established himself as a Super League winger in 2011.
In all, he made 28 appearances during Michael Maguire’s final season as coach, notching an impressive 23 tries along the way. It was the kind of form Wigan fans became accustomed to seeing from the flying winger before his departure for rugby union and Sale Sharks at the end of the 2016 season.
Away from the league, Charnley had an eventful Challenge Cup Final that year, scoring the opening try in their first cup win since 2002 when they beat Leeds – as well as breaking a bone in his hand in the final.
Charnley’s 2011 stats: Games 28, Tries 23: Tries Per Game: 0.82
Joe Burgess’ breakthrough season (2014)
Burgess had a taste of Super League at the end of the 2013 season, making a couple of appearances and scoring on his debut against Hull FC.
That led to him getting his big breakthrough the following year in 2014 – and how he took his chance.
In all, he made 23 Super League appearances and scored the Warriors’ only try in their Grand Final defeat to St Helens. That four-pointer was one of 20 he would score in Super League that season.
His form led to him being named Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year too.
Burgess’ 2014 stats: Games 23, Tries 20: Tries Per Game: 0.87
If Marshall continues in the kind of form he is on at the moment during his big breakthrough year, there’s every chance he will outscore the likes of Charnley and Burgess in comparison to their first full seasons in a Wigan shirt.
What’s more, Marshall’s current record of scoring more than a try a game on average is way in front of Charnley and Burgess – so there’s every possibility that, if Marshall keeps it up, he’s going to break more than a few records along the way.
The only thing that may be beyond him this season? Greg Eden’s ever-increasing try tally at the top of the try-scoring charts..