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Everything posted by EagleEyePie

  1. Not too bothered by that performance given it's the first game of the season. Wigan have a habit of not really giving the first team players much game time in pre-season and I think it showed. I also think Wigan will have a different pack to that once the season got going. He clearly rewarded Partington, Smithies and Byrne for their performances last year and, as the best prop in pre-season, Ethan Havard was rewarded with a place, but Flower, Bullock and Clark will be in that pack pretty soon. I think Lam is trying to ensure the forwards fight for their place. It could have backfired tonight as Wire looked a bit stronger in the pack for me. We did deal well with Clark. It's often difficult to play against teams who go a man short. The backs to the wall mentality helps, but referees also tend to give teams who are short a bit more leniency, it leads to the other team getting penalised more and it levels the playing field. I'd have hoped the margin would have been wider, but realistically one of the Wire tries was simply down to having Burgess on the field when he clearly wasn't anywhere near fit enough to be playing. It took about 5 seconds to work out he was unfit but for some reason Lam kept him on the field, even after being easily brushed off by Blake Austin, and he cost us a try. The reserves were brought back for a reason. We've got plenty of competition for places in the pack and Joe Bullock should have been selected instead. So overall, some real positives for Wire to take out of the game. Wigan get the win which is the most important thing - clearly have some areas to work on but a shaky start was always expected and selecting Burgess really didn't help us. Kendall reffed the game well. Sending Hill off was correct. There was nothing malicious in it whatsoever but it was a bad tackle. It also seems he's one of the few people who actually knows the charge down rule. It's good to have Super League back!
  2. Smith was one of those one dimensional halves that is strong in one particular aspect but lacking in many others. In the right team at the right time they can look like quality players, but put them out of their comfort zone and their flaws become apparent. Smith really made a name for himself at Salford and built a reputation as one of the best halves in Super League before he joined Wigan, where he gained even more plaudits. For me his success at both clubs was down to playing alongside two very underrated overseas halves who were much better players. One was Daniel Holdsworth and the other was Blake Green. Holdsworth may not have been a world beater but he was a good all round half who was effective and dangerous enough to draw most of the attention from the opposition and do everything required to allow Smith to do what he could do well, which is kick effectively when given time and space. It was the same situation with Blake Green at Wigan. Smith wasn't the same player when Green left. The first season with Smith and Williams together was okay. Williams was a revelation, often because he added something off the cuff in a side that was rigidly structured, a structure that Smith knew and played to effectively. As soon as teams figured Williams out a little, and Wigan's structure became predictable, you'd have expected the senior half to take charge, think on his feet and bear the burden of being the main creator. Smith's last two years at Wigan were very poor - and he was basically exposed as being poor under pressure and unable to create anything himself. It said a lot when Wigan were willing to allow their most senior halfback to leave for their biggest rivals for nothing while still under contract.
  3. I think there are a few question marks over what Wigan's starting line up will be for the opening game. A lot will depend on Lam's ideas for the shape of the team and how players perform in pre-season. Gildart won't be fit so we might start with Bibby and Hankinson in the centres. Other options would be Burgess or Manfredi, as they've played centre before, Isa - which might be considered if Greenwood can find a bit of form, or Hardaker - which would be bold since he's our player of the season at fullback, but I think most Wigan fans want to see what Bevan French can do at fullback. On the subject of French, Lam has already said he isn't sure where he's going to play him. He's mostly featured on the wing so he could be competition for Manfredi, Burgess and Marshall. There was talk of him being brought in to play in the halves so he could be paired up with Hastings, but that would mean moving a key player (Leuluai) from a key role. In the forwards the only real guaranteed starters are Powell and Farrell. Greenwood, Isa or Smithies could take the other back row place (or maybe another youngster to stake a claim, such as Jack Wells, Kai Pearce-Paul or Joe Shorrocks. Our middles are another mystery. George Burgess is a definite pick but he could be used off the bench or to start. Our experienced props (Clubb and Flower) aren't exactly guaranteed a place due to poor form and injury this year. Bullock is back to fitness and if he picks up his early season form again he'll be a dangerous player. Mitch Clark I'm not sure of but the club obviously rate him and he's another player in the mix, along with Navarrete (poor last year but he's still got potential), Partington and Byrne. We've also got competition for the loose forward role with O'Loughlin going for one more year and Smithies breaking through. With so much competition for places and so many roles up for grabs I'm not sure how Lam will have any idea what our strongest team will be until they've got out on the field. However, based on what our players are capable of, our strongest team to start in my opinion would be: French; Manfredi, Hardaker, Bibby, Burgess; Hastings, Leuluai; Burgess, Powell, Flower; Greenwood, Farrell, O'Loughlin; (Bench - Smithies, Clark, Clubb, Bullock) Although if I was to pick it again in a week it would probably be completely different. While I'd leave Willie Isa out of a theoretical strongest line up based on how good players could be at their best, he'll almost certainly be in the side because he's so consistent.
  4. Paul Anderson is the England Knights coach and England assistant coach, so probably the Southgate equivalent.
  5. Peacock wasn't a tactical leader either but he was a good captain. No matter who is captain they will need other good leaders around them and good tacticians. Bateman is intelligent on the field and is in the James Graham mould of putting all his effort in even if it's a lost cause. At Wigan Bateman was the obvious leader in O'Loughlin's absence and the obvious choice to replace him. I'd say he's also an obvious choice to replace O'Loughlin and Graham.
  6. Was there actually a job for coaches to apply for, or was the role simply given to Bennett? In some ways I don't think you can blame Bennett for focusing purely on the job he's there to do, which is to coach England, if the role was simply handed to him. It provided him with an opportunity to coach most of his England players this year otherwise he wouldn't have had that opportunity. It was completely ridiculous to bring back GB, claim it is some separate entity to England and then hand the coaching job to someone whose only interest is England. Bennett's been in the game long enough for everyone to know what he's like. I wouldn't even have minded if they had included players from the Celtic nations who perhaps might not have made a full strength side - because if you're going to bring back Great Britain then it only makes sense if you're going to go all in with this British identity. If it's coached by the England coach and full of England players it's not worth it.
  7. He still passed the ball to McGilvary with enough time for him to get the ball down over the line comfortably - which McGilvary should have done easily but didn't because he dropped it. Big things matter in tight games too.
  8. That's clutching at straws. It wasn't the best timed pass but Hardaker still waited until he had drawn the man before passing. He should have waited until he committed a little more but that would also risk an inaccurate pass if the timing was off. McGilvary was one or two yards in from the touchline so could have positioned himself wider (it's only the impact of the tackle that takes him into the corner flag but there's plenty of space to work with there) and literally all he had to do was keep hold of the ball. The only mistakes made were possibly not hugging the touchline but definitely trying to ground the ball with 2 hands rather than keeping it in his right. Why an experienced winger like him is doing that I don't know as a 2 hand carry close to the line means all a defender has to do is knock the arm, which is what happened.
  9. Bennett shouldn't have been made GB coach to begin with. If GB is meant to be a standalone representative side and not feel like England under a different name then they should have had a different coach. Unless we turn this tour around drastically then he shouldn't remain at the GB coach. As England coach he's done some good things, got the side close to the Aussies in some games but to be honest we're not massively better off than before. It's not like he's been a disaster though. My concern from these last few matches though is that things are starting to stagnate. He seems to be overly reliant on the same players even though they aren't at the same level they once were and seems to favour certain players based on their previous performances for England, yet doesn't afford the same luxuries to others. It almost seems lazy. I'm not sure how much Super League he actually watches, so seems to favour players he already knows about. Others get picked but seem to be expected to play in a different way. Maybe it's just time for a refresh. I don't think the coach makes as much of a difference as the players but if the coach isn't necessarily picking the right players or planning ahead then it might be best to look elsewhere.
  10. While I agree that we've lost a lot from O'Loughlin not being good enough to make the squad this year but I'm not sure just sticking a half at lock is the answer. We used to try that with Sinfield as a ball playing 13 but it just meant we lacked a forward with a good carry. To be an effective ball playing 13 you need the size to make strong carries as that's what attracts defenders and creates the space. Williams likes to run laterally looking for space which is not what you want a ball playing 13 to do.
  11. I was having trouble finding the payment screen. Every time I went on my account section and clicked the England v Jamaica tab it kept going straight to a video player. It was doing that for about 20 minutes but having tried it again 5 minutes ago it brought up a payment screen instead and I've managed to buy it. Anyone who was having trouble should probably try again now.
  12. My favourite try was probably Liam Tindall's in the 75th minute - purely because of the step under pressure and lovely weighted cross-field kick from prop Harry Rushton! Halves would be proud of that. The Warrington lads are outstanding talents. Roby and Wrench ripped it up and it's a shame Thewlis got injured because he's quality too.
  13. True but I think Widdop was surplus. He can't go through gaps and if you're using several playmakers at some point they will need to support and go through gaps themselves and that's where Widdop doesn't offer enough in this format. The wingers were the biggest issue of course, but I think maybe another outside back or two in the team would have offered a bigger threat. Sacrifice one playmaker for a centre and I think the balance is better.
  14. I agree. It's not like this was a full on test match, and the Saints players were getting weeks off during the playoffs. When the side was announced I was surprised Gildart wasn't in there. Very good taking the ball into contact, rapid and with good hands. That's the type of player you need for 9's. Selecting Hall and McGilvary as our wingers is just odd. They are slower than a lot of forwards. We also had too many playmakers. Tomkins was a smart selection, he's suited to this style, but why Widdop? He's not a dynamic attacking player. Then you've got Graham and Sutton in the pack, who haven't got the pace or explosive running as their rivals from down under. The Aussie side looks to have a fair few younger forwards and definitely younger outside backs. Bennett just treated it as a GB warm up. I can understand there are concerns about who plays with GB tests coming up but I wouldn't have minded if GB players weren't eligible for selection - we could still have fielded a half decent side for 9's.
  15. Gareth Ellis was still capable of playing at a good level late into his career. The same goes for Greg Bird. While O'Loughlin really seemed to be struggling having returned from the pectoral injury I think people forget that at the start of the year he was in some good form and playing the full 80 when most expected him to be spelled. He's had numerous games where he's made more carries than an average forward and made plenty of tackles. If you look at his work rate in the following games, it's superior to the vast majority of our middles: Saints (Jan) - 37 tackles, 13 carries Leeds (Feb) - 29 tackles, 23 carries Hull (Feb) - 37 tackles, 18 carries Wire (Mar) - 37 tackles, 13 carries HKR (Jun) - 48 tackles, 15 carries Leeds (Jun) - 37 tackles, 14 carries Huddersfield (Jun) - 25 tackles, 19 carries Salford (Sep) - 38 tackles, 10 carries Bearing in mind that O'Loughlin has rarely had a full off-season due to playing international games or being injured, I don't see why he can't still play at a high level next year. It's not like his stamina has gone, as the examples above show. Perhaps he was overworked early on and not managed correctly, but O'Loughlin anywhere near his best for 40 minutes is a damn useful player to have.
  16. On merit he hasn't been good enough to get into the GB squad. He's not even Wigan's best loose forward this year. To me it just shows how well respected he is that rather than being simply omitted from the squad they've provided a press release. From a Wigan perspective it's the news I was hoping for. If he's going to play for Wigan again next year he needs a full off season to be anywhere near his best again.
  17. I've avoided the forums for the last couple of days as the reaction among a number of Wigan fans was somewhat inevitable (just check the 2 main Wigan RL forums for the meltdown). I hope Salford fans enjoy the Grand Final and that moments like Friday night come around with more frequency. Salford regularly have the loudest support when they come to the DW and some of the most passionate fans who have stuck by the club in difficult circumstances. Maybe it's just looking at things through a different perspective after recent months. I've been around a lot of people who have recently been made redundant, the football team I support nearly went out of existence, one nearby team pretty much has. I really don't have the energy to be shouting about which players are 'stealing a living', why the coach must be sacked immediately, why losing a semi-final is somehow a personal insult to them. Friday was a great sporting moment for an underdog, and for a team whose fans have waited a long time for something like this. I feel like Wigan were inevitably going to struggle to reach the Grand Final given the team that was being fielded. Our young trio of Smithies, Partington and Byrne have come under so much pressure this season and they've performed beyond expectations but the playoffs is where experience often comes to the fore. Young forwards have breakthrough years but often they fade around August onwards. That was the case with players like Bateman, Farrell, Sutton, Joel Tomkins, Mossop etc whenever they broke into the first team. Our young trio somehow managed to keep going but ultimately Salford had Mossop and Dudson, two seasoned pros in the best form of their career and who have been in situations like this before and learned from them. Expecting Partington and Byrne to be leading the pack to victory is just unrealistic. Ideally they'd have got more help from the experienced players but it wasn't to be. Flower and O'Loughlin I can understand. They were rushed back from injury earlier than expected just so they could get games under their belt to hopefully be fully fit for the final if they got there. Flower in particular played injured at the start of the season when we were down to the bare bones. Clubb unfortunately just didn't have it in him. Navarrete has some experience but was well out of form. As for Greenwood, it's sad that someone who started the season so well (he was outstanding away at Salford earlier in the year) has faded so much after several injuries. Still, concussion protocols are important and while having so many absences probably ruined his season I wouldn't have complained had he sat out all the remaining games this year. Then there's Bullock who was playing well but suffered a season ending injury. Had we been a bit more fortunate with the players mentioned above we'd have been able to put up more of a fight against Saints and Salford. I've heard some Wigan fans saying we should never be losing to a team like Salford but that's just arrogance. That Salford side had a lot of quality and it wasn't a case of Wigan losing that game by playing poorly, Salford won it by dominating in every facet. So well done Salford. I'm already looking forward to next season and hope all the players who have played this year can spend some quality time with their friends and family.
  18. The kid from Wigan is Macauley Davies and I agree he comes across really well when he's been on the radio. I'm led to believe he's interested in doing media work in RL and being in his early 20's he's got plenty of time to learn the ropes.
  19. That's not that surprising when you consider Wigan's props generally make around 50m per game at most. The metres come from the outside backs, where we'll often have 3 or 4 of them making 100+ metres. The forwards only really make carries when they are in the final 2/3 of the field, and we struggled to even make it that far on Friday night. It was a deliberate tactic under Wane. The forwards didn't make as many carries but had enough in the tank to defend with high intensity. Lam tried to change that early in the year but we had so many injuries in the pack that it never worked, as none of our props were really capable of making a lot of metres anyway. Now it's done out of necessity. Clubb isn't the player he was a few years ago, Flower and O'Loughlin aren't fully fit and Byrne and Partington are youngsters who will generally struggle to be really effective going forward until they are a couple of years older. So as a result they are back to playing the Wane way - with the backs and back row taking most of the carries. Considering Clubb was on the field mostly when we were under pressure and stuck in our own half, it's no surprise he's made a low number of carries and a higher than usual number of tackles. That's just how the game plan is.
  20. I thought Saints were outstanding and played some of their best rugby last night. I don't think there's any doubt that when Saints' pack is anywhere near their best they can't be matched. If they aren't at their best then of course they are beatable, Wire showed that, so there's still hope for Salford and Wigan in the Grand Final. A result like this is something I worried about. The risk has been there for weeks but thankfully the team has probably competed beyond its means a little. Our pack is a weakness but one we've been able to overcome thanks to our outside backs. Most teams seem to have struggled to contain our backs and that's allowed our front row to revert to their Wane style of making fewer carries and having increased fitness for higher intensity defence. Saints last night were too big, too fit and too intense for us. Only Gildart looked a threat from our backline, while Williams had a decent game behind a comprehensively beaten pack. Without our backs making metres we grind to a halt. This isn't necessarily a criticism of Wigan's pack. There are mitigating factors. O'Loughlin and Flower are still only a few games back after long layoffs and don't look anywhere near match fit. Partington is still a rookie and while he defends with intensity usually struggles to make metres. Byrne is a good prospect and has had some good performances but not first team quality just yet, but the very poor form of Navarette has necessitated his inclusion. Greenwood has also struggled for form which is why he was left out. Farrell, Isa and Smithies do well in the back row but as a smaller forwards they are surrounded by other smaller forwards which compounds one of Wigan's biggest issues - the pack still lacks size and gets severely tested by big, mobile packs, of which Saints have by far the best. I'm glad Wigan have reached this stage of the playoffs but I'm not too disheartened by getting a hammering. The Saints pack is incredible and should be dominating if both teams play at their best. It's not reasonable to expect Wigan's younger forwards to compete with the likes of Thompson and Walmsley who are at the peak of their abilities, or some of the experience they have around them like Taia, Peyroux and LMS. Lam highlighted the pack was weak at the start of the year, since then we've lost Hamlin and Tautai through indiscretions, lost Bullock to injury and only just had Flower and O'Loughlin return. The club is clearly trying to fix that for next year but for this year we're doing well to get something out of what we have. The goal is clear now though. Try to beat Salford, which will be phenomenally tough, and then hope there's enough left in the tank to perform against Saints in the Grand Final and hope Saints are off their game. I do think Salford muscle up better in the pack and have players who can make good ground and stand a better chance of beating Saints than Wigan.
  21. I think a lot of people get stuck in black and white thinking and see criticism of Lenagan or the club as a suggestion that they are doing something wrong. Lenagan has proven himself to be a fairly successful businessman but anyone who's successful in business has had failures and made mistakes. Some Wigan fans might be fully supportive of Lenagan and there are plenty of reasons to feel that way, but it doesn't mean everything he does is correct or that he doesn't make mistakes. Likewise, just because Wigan have recorded huge losses for 2018 doesn't mean Lenagan doesn't know what he's doing and is an awful chairman. His attempts to grow the club through taking games on the road would appear to have failed as there doesn't appear to have been any significant benefit from them. The trip down under would appear to have been a complete disaster and it's not unfair to criticise Lenagan, Radlinski and the club for being less than honest about how successful it was. On the other hand, Lenagan has turned the club into one of the most successful in the recent era on the field and deserves credit for that. He's been willing to put significant amounts of his own money into the club to maintain success and keep the club going and all Wigan fans should be thankful for that. One of the smartest moves Lenagan made was buying Edge Hall Road from Dave Whelan when purchasing Wigan, giving the club a valuable asset and a training base. The move to Robin Park Arena seems like a sensible move, although it's somewhat borne of necessity. The club didn't spend much money on the upkeep of Edge Hall Road - the stadium itself is as decrepit as ever. Drainage issues with the pitch caused a number of academy games to be moved in the last few years and there seems little point in paying out to fix that issue. One benefit of moving the base to Robin Park Arena is being able to have the fan village there before games. The club makes no money from food and drink sales on match days which means they are missing out on a lot of revenue. If they can make the fan village a success by enticing people there before games then it should provide a benefit. The difficulty is getting fans to go there in the first place, as most will just want to get to the ground in just enough time and get to their seat - it has to be something worth going to. Apparently at the weekend it was like a ghost town. In terms of running Robin Park, lots of people seem to think it's guaranteed to make money but if that's the case why has the council relinquished control of it? It won't simply be a case of 'here's a sports facility, rent it out and make lots of money'. There are going to be maintenance and staffing costs involved and if it isn't run correctly the club could make further losses. On the whole, the accounts are concerning but not a cause for panic. The biggest change from the previous year was a huge rise in administrative costs and those are almost certainly due to the trip down under. Without those expenses the loss wouldn't be as large. The club still consistently makes a loss though and making the club profitable while having a squad big enough to challenge for honours seems unlikely at this point. I've seen a lot of Wigan fans saying we need our own ground but really that's just a pipe dream. The club would have to take on a huge amount of debt to finance it and there's so much uncertainty around at the moment that it would be crazy to do so. Also, there's no obvious location in Wigan where a stadium could be built. Available land is at a premium and housing is a much bigger priority. For the foreseeable future Wigan fans will have to make do with being at the DW.
  22. But people always question the integrity of the officials. It's literally one of the worst things about our sport at the moment. If you start choosing officials based on spurious attempts to question their integrity it simply serves to suggest their integrity is in question.
  23. Why was it always only going to happen after the game? Eamon McManus said in his statement it was inevitable Hicks would be under heightened scrutiny and that it should have been avoided. So he's saying he new beforehand it was a bad idea and shouldn't have happened. Why didn't he raise these issues beforehand if it's of such importance? Do you think he'd have raised the issue had Saints won and the game had passed by without incident? Of course he wouldn't. It's only an issue to him now - and only 'inevitable' - because he's concocted his own narrative about why Hicks made a certain decision based on a completely unrelated incident. The ref for the Challenge Cup final should have been the best ref. It was decided that was Hicks. That's exactly how refereeing appointments should work. If McManus and anyone else thinks referees should be appointed based on how much their decisions could be questioned after the game based on some tenuous link they it's a crazy precedent. If Saints get to the Grand Final and play Warrington, does that mean Robert Hicks should not be allowed to officiate, even if he's been the best ref over the course of the season? McManus' pathetic statements mean that it's inevitable that there will be heightened scrutiny on Hicks if that was the case.
  24. The questioning of the publicity and engagement is only happening AFTER the game. If the club had questioned it beforehand maybe I'd have had more time for the claims that it was 'inevitable' that people would question Hicks' calls more in light of that event (although unlikely because it's a ridiculous claim to begin with). Refs being 'beyond question' is largely impossible if people ask stupid questions.
  25. But he's the one putting them in that position! He's the one who has come up with this ridiculous narrative that Hicks couldn't possibly be impartial and that it would inevitably lead to accentuated criticism purely on the basis of HIS accentuated criticism. It's ludicrous
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