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Everything posted by EagleEyePie

  1. I'd argue the opposite with KPP. His defence has usually been spot on and it's pretty rare that anyone gets past him. Even positionally he's been better than most makeshift centres we've had. In attack he's had one or two games where he's caused teams problems but otherwise produced absolutely nothing. I have a feeling Wane has him there because he's got size and has been defensively pretty sound. Wane's approach has always been defence first and safety first. It's a big ask to be facing the athletes that the NRL produces in an unfamiliar position though. Of all the selections in the team I'd say Pearce-Paul is the most surprising.
  2. Matty Smith was a useful player for England in his day. Terrible at thinking outside the box or playing creatively but he could play to a game plan and do the simple things so well, which in international games that can be ultra structured and attritional is quite useful. If Sneyd can come in and do that role and provide us with a solid kicking game he could be a good addition. He's also a little bit more creative than Smith was, so as long as his defence is solid Sneyd could have something to offer. With Watkins I'd be a bit wary of picking him as a centre. Isn't it the case that his return to form has pretty much coincided with his move into the back row? If his form wasn't great playing centre but he's now in excellent form as a back rower I can't see how it makes any sense to pick him in the position he was underperforming in.
  3. Had to happen for Wigan to move forward and strengthen the centres, which has been one of our biggest weaknesses for years. I think there's a decent player in him somewhere but for whatever reason it just hasn't really worked out at Wigan and he never really kicked on or showed much development in the weaker areas of his game. Never really been a wingers centre as his passing has been pretty woeful. He's got a strong carry but he's frustratingly workshy and barely even noticeable in most games. Defending has been more than a little suspect too over the last 3 years. I've always felt like he'd be better in the back row. He's fine when work comes to him, but he doesn't seem to go looking for work, so being closer to the action might get more out of him. He's also strong in the tackle when he can make good contact - I think defending in the centre makes him more vulnerable to footwork or poor decision making and just isolates him a little too much. I do think he'll improve at Huddersfield and Watson may well get the best out of him. It's clearly not been the right fit for him at Wigan though but best of luck to him.
  4. Surely this decision proves that the process is flawed. Whether you agree with the outcome or not, they've seemingly come to the 'correct' decision in their eyes having got it wrong twice. It must have hinged on the defence that Saints provided, yet all players are punished before they can even provide a defence and are threatened with increased sanctions for 'frivolous' appeals should they attempt to defend themselves. If you're going to punish players beforehand then it should be as close to black and white as possible and there must objectively be a right and a wrong outcome, but their process has forced a player to appeal an appeal to reach the right outcome. If, however, greater context is required to come to the right decision (as this incident suggests), it's wrong to be punishing players before they can provide that context.
  5. Thankfully Leuluai is taking Briers' place. The last time Long was on the Wigan coaching staff it's fair to say he didn't make a great impression. I think it was 3 months he lasted before a diplomatically worded statement was released.
  6. I think it's a sensible point but you also have to take into account that defending at fullback and defending in the centres requires different attributes. As you mention, at fullback Connor's lack of pack seems to leave him exposed and from what I've seen of him he sometimes has a tendency to try to commit to a tackle early even if he's not going to make it rather than chase back and get outpaced. There's also the positioning aspect of defending at fullback but probably more importantly the ability to communicate and organise the defensive line. If that part of a fullback's game is weak then that's a big negative no matter how dangerous they are in attack. Connor might actually be more capable of defending in the centres where lateral movement and decision making is generally more important than pace and tackling more likely to be front on. Having said that, it's been a while since I saw Connor play centre so can't remember whether he was particularly good there when defending.
  7. It was a decent game in conditions that were a bit tricky at times. Wakefield looked like they were closing the gap at one point and putting Wigan under a bit of pressure but Sam Halsall came up with a perfectly timed interception to stretch the lead. I was really impressed with the Wakefield loose forward Scriven and Kershaw on the wing. They both were relentless throughout the game. If he can't get into the Wakefield first team I'm surprised no one else has come in for Kershaw. Ultimately Wigan just had a bit too much in the forwards. Having gone through a period where we always seemed to have small middles in the academy we've now got some real size in the front row. Harvie Hill, Jack Bibby and Toby Brannan have been the cornerstone of the reserves side this year and hopefully at least one will fulfil their potential in the coming years. Halsall was man of the match and it's completely unfathomable why Bibby continually got selected ahead of him this year. James McDonnell also had a strong game, which will please Leeds fans, but was also very indisciplined, getting sin binned for a high shot, penalised for a tip tackle and further punished for dissent. A really good effort from Trinity and the scoreline doesn't reflect how competitive they were for the majority of the game.
  8. I'm disappointed that the season is now over for us but I'm delighted with the performances this year as a whole. To go from worst attack to best attack and to get that Challenge Cup trophy back is a great achievement for Matt Peet in his first season. I wasn't as confident as some Wigan fans about our chances this year and thought we were still quite a bit below the benchmark that Saints have set over the last few years. Right now it shows that Leeds have pushed themselves ahead of us and there's still a lot of work to be done to get this team to one that can be in Grand Finals regularly. I do hope the club is still looking to recruit aggressively as there's sometimes a tendency to think we'll just keep improving with a young squad but it doesn't always work like that. The job that Rohan Smith has done at Leeds is fantastic. I think they've been the form team in Super League since he took over and you have to give him credit for turning things around. Yes, they do have quality players in the side so it's a different task to the one Paul Rowley has done with Salford, but several coaches had already tried and failed to turn Leeds into a strong side and they looked down on confidence. The big difference was obviously defence. Leeds defended incredibly well under a lot of sustained pressure and we just couldn't find a way to break them down. To some extent it showed how much we missed Farrell. He obviously gets noticed for the carries, the breaks and the tries but he does so much good work off the ball and creating space for the backs. There were times when the Leeds defence was up quickly and our playmakers stopped and it's those moments that Farrell gets in motion, runs a good line or gets the ball and takes it back across field and makes something happen. I thought Isa tried hard last night but he's nowhere near the same level. We were a little hampered by the absence of Cust as he makes a real difference and could have been pushed into the hooking role when we were on top to change things around. Unfortunately Leuluai just looked like he wasn't up to speed. It was a long way from what he was producing at the start of the year but you can't blame him for that. Smith tried hard but didn't really get much support. Matt Peet has done most things right this year but I do think team selection didn't help. Powell had a reasonable game considering he's been out for so long but Brad O'Neill has been playing so well recently it seemed harsh to leave him out. Powell took quite a while to really get up to speed and O'Neill offers something different and is more of a threat with ball in hand. I can't understand the logic in dropping one of our form players for someone who was bound to need time to get up to speed. The injury to French also robbed Wigan of any chance of using plan B and getting Field into the halves. I thought we were slightly stronger in the front row which was pleasing but we just couldn't really take advantage of it. We were playing the right game plan at first by being patient but lost concentration at times. Leeds showed in the previous fixture against us that if we've tried to throw the ball around too much we'd have come unstuck. I thought our two best players were Mike Cooper and Ethan Havard. For me Havard is the most underrated prop in the competition. For the last 3 years he's been our best prop but I think he still flies under the radar a little. I genuinely think he's good enough to be a contender for the England side. One area that definitely needs strengthening is the centres and I'm not sure just signing Toby King is going to do much. Pearce-Paul defends very well in that position but his effectiveness in attack can be limited. Bibby on the other hand is just lazy as hell. Even when we're down a man and he's moved onto the wings where our players generally get more involved he only made 7 carries. He's got some size to him, he can make some good yards, but he just doesn't seem interested. The fact that it's not been announced that he's signed somewhere else is giving me anxiety that we're inexplicably going to re-sign him. All things considered I think you have to give Leeds huge credit. They defended brilliantly under pressure, the game plan was spot on and Rohan Smith has outcoached Matt Peet twice now. After a good season there's some thinking to do and some strengthening required to ensure we continue to improve because this league is all about the playoffs and we're only 3rd or 4th best when it matters.
  9. Then we both accept that it's about finding the right balance. Of course I'm going to tip the discussion to those form selections not playing well and out of form players performing, that's the whole point that I'm making, that it's never been as simple as just 'form' and that club form doesn't always translate to good performances at international level. My argument certainly isn't that form shouldn't have any bearing, just that any international coach is going to want players who have already proven themselves at that level in the squad and that's all part of finding the balance. You're right that the only way to find out if players are good enough is to select them and that we need to throw some players in there who don't have experience. It's not like you can rule players out of selection for having never played at that level before as the talent pool would dwindle to 0. We've got to get the right players in the team. All I'm saying is it doesn't necessarily mean it's purely about 'form', especially since form is subjective. Form isn't the same as talent after all and relatively average players can be in good form.
  10. I wouldn't say picking form players always produces the right results for England/GB over the years either. There are always form players that get selected who then don't play well, just as there are out of form players that end up playing well. It's about finding the right balance.
  11. I'd say Bateman is playing well enough to get selected for England. He's one of the most important players at Wigan. Most of the frustration is that he can perform at a higher level than what he's been doing most of the year and be more consistent but he's still performing well. Also, any coach is going to pick players who have played well at international level before. You don't pick purely on form, despite that often being what coaches say and what fans want. You'd be making so many changes to the team year after year, you'd be constantly having to weed out the players who have had a good year but aren't at the right level and those players who tend to play well at international level even if their club form has been indifferent. Harry Smith has been in good form this year, but if you could only select Smith or George Williams you'd pick Williams. Liam Farrell (before injury) was the best back row forward out of our Super League based options but if you could only select him or Bateman for England you'd pick Bateman. If an established player is playing poorly then that makes the decision harder, but Bateman isn't playing poorly, so you'd expect his selection to be a fairly easy choice. Where selection might be more difficult is where there's no established player available or playing at a reasonable level. Hooker being the obvious example. Without Roby I'd argue there's no obvious first choice. Clark has had some good games at international level but he's looked poor whenever I've seen him play this year and he missed out on the England side mid-season. McShane looked poor when given his chance for England and hasn't seemed that good for Cas. McIlorum will probably be the first name on Wane's team sheet. He has a lot of aggression but I feel our opponents might go for talent in such a pivotal position instead. Some of the more in-form players don't have the experience, such as Andy Ackers (unlucky to miss out of the Dream Team), so that's where there's more of a selection dilemma.
  12. There's nothing too controversial about that team except for the omission of Leutele. Not that Kenny-Dowall hasn't been outstanding too but it's certain a bit of a surprise that one. Makinson, Ackers, Watkins, Smithies had great seasons and are unlucky to miss out.
  13. Despite their injury problems there are some very good players in the Rovers side and I would expect them to win this fairly comfortably. There's only one halfback named in the Wigan side and he's only played one senior game (Logan Astley) so I'm not sure there's going to be much cohesion in any attacks Wigan might try to put together. On the plus side, this game has nothing riding on it so hopefully both sets of players will just go out there with the goal of putting on an entertaining game. There are some very promising young players in the Wigan side so hopefully they get a chance to impress.
  14. Enjoyable match and one of the best atmospheres at the DW for many years. It was a solid performance from Wigan. Still a bit to improve upon but it's hard to be play perfect rugby in a derby game. I'm under no illusions that if we play Saints again they will be far, far better than that. Wigan seemed to be a little bit more motivated which isn't surprising. Saints have won the LLS and it doesn't matter when or where the trophy is given to them. Wigan obviously wanted to tie up 2nd but the ridiculous figure scheduling meant that it was hugely beneficial to get it sorted last night. Lots of uncharacteristic unforced errors from Saints which relieved a lot of pressure. It would have been a much tighter game if they'd just had a bit more focus. I thought Welsby had one of the worst games I've seen from him. He's the pantomime villain so good to see him have an off day. We did really well to get in his face and put him under pressure. I've seen some people complaining about his getting stick from Smithies and Smith after an error but he's shown he's more than willing to dish it out so he's got to take it too. It's all part and parcel of the game. He's a quality player though so the next time we play Saints he will be outstanding without a doubt. The pack was strong. Our back row of Farrell, Bateman and Smithies is the best in the competition in my opinion. I doubt any back row can match it in terms of graft but there's so much quality in there too. None of them are big for forwards but it doesn't seem to make any difference. The front row coped very well with the Saints forwards for most of the game. As ever Paasi was the biggest threat but we nullified his threat most of the time. The biggest worry is the injury to Farrell. Forget the nonsense about Wigan being overly reliant on French and Field, Farrell is the most important player we have so hopefully the injury he picked up won't be too serious. I was also really impressed with Brad O'Neill. He's got huge potential and so many positive aspects to his game. It's a tough ask to play 80 minutes in a derby but he looked like he belonged and finished the game as top tackler with 50 tackles and made so key contributions. Sam Powell is hugely underrated and we've missed him at times, but long term there's no doubt O'Neill could be a far better player. Hopefully it will just be a case of waiting for O'Neill to find the consistency needed to be a first team regular. Now on to the absolutely ridiculous game against Hull KR on Monday. I'm sure it's not the only fixture to feel like this, but I can't imagine either side has any real desire to play the game. Rovers barely have any players left and Wigan with just 2 days rest after a derby would be mad to do anything other than rest every single player from the Saints game bar maybe 2 or 3 and just throw in any returning players like Havard and Leuluai and use fringe/academy players. Why on earth clubs insisted that there had to be a double header this weekend rather than just playing one less loopy fixture I'll never know.
  15. We currently have Jake Bibby at centre. King can't be any worse at passing to his winger. While it does seem like we're swapping one player who can't pass and can't defend for another, I think King does have the potential to be better and is more of a natural athlete, and he averages nearly 40m per game more so it actually seems like King puts a bit of work in.
  16. There seems to be quite a few clubs on the hunt for new centres for 2023 with lots of movement. King is one of those who could be a good player but his form this season with Wire has been pretty horrendous from what I've seen, particularly his defending. Is it a surprise that it's just a loan? Not really. I doubt Wigan would be willing to buy out his contract given his form, but Wire would probably be wanting to free up the space on the cap to rebuild the squad. Low risk move for Wigan but with Bibby expected to leave and Thornley missing pretty much the entire year through injury we've only got Sam Halsall (the Wigan academy product someone was asking about above) as a recognised centre. I think Sutton and O'Keefe in the academy aren't at the right level yet. Centre is definitely an area of weakness for Wigan as we can't keep playing Isa and Pearce-Paul there (and Farrell at times, who is still our best performing centre of the last couple of years). Will we get more out of Toby King? I guess it depends. He looked like a future superstar when he was in the Huddersfield academy before Wire poached him. A few years ago he looked to be heading in the right direction but he should have been an England international now with the talent he has. Hopefully a move to Wigan can be the moment he kicks on, but there's always the risk that he's just one of those players who looks outstanding as a youngster but never really hits the heights they were capable of. I'm glad Wigan haven't committed long term, as I think it's too much of a risk, but it's also a risk worth taking as we need to improve our centres.
  17. It was a pretty routine win for Wigan without ever really getting out of 2nd gear. I'm a big fan of having Toulouse in Super League and wish there was a way to give them time to grow in the competition but you also can't hide from the fact that they knew what they were up against at the start of the year but seemingly haven't really bothered to strengthen their squad sufficiently. I know the losses of Kheirallah and Ford were a blow but it's debatable whether they'd be Super League quality anyway. It's great that they've caught a few teams out at home and managed to beat the champions, but they've gone the entire year with a championship standard team as if they expected to be given an exemption from relegation. It's a bit of a wasted opportunity because it's not like they'd struggle to attract players. Toulouse going down will be disappointing because there's something to build on in France but they've barely tried to play the game that every other club has to when they've come up. The Leigh chairman may be a fruit loop but at least there might be some ambition coming to Super League next season.
  18. I think you do Wakefield a disservice. They are second bottom but they do have a decent team. It would be condescending to think that whatever the team we put out we should be winning. Wakefield's performances against Catalans and in particular St Helens show that they are capable of troubling strong sides. And the point I was making wasn't that we'd have necessarily won if the 5 players I mentioned had been available, but that in those conditions the players you want available are your fittest and hardest workers and best defenders. Take those out of the side and we can't really be surprised that teams can topple Wigan. We're good but still a long way from Saints and also very beatable away from home even when fielding stronger teams. Wakefield dominated the game down the middle and controlled the game through Miller and Lino who were excellent. They deserved the win and they are capable of being higher up the table than they are. One of a few teams who just struggled a bit with injuries throughout the year. From a Wigan perspective though I just don't think it's that surprising with the players we had missing. We've got some adequate back up but we are not at the level yet where we can just beat anyone regardless of who we have missing. The goal is to get to that point but we're not there yet.
  19. This game was fairly standard stuff for Wigan away from home. Toulouse, Catalans, Huddersfield, Hull FC, Leeds and now Wakefield. All very poor performances that highlight a frailty in defence and where our attempts to play the attacking rugby that seems to work so well at home just fall flat. It shows that we still have some way to go to reach the level that Saints are at. Fortunately our home form has been so strong that we should be able to secure 2nd place and home games in the playoffs. Hard to argue we don't deserve it or that we've somehow been fortunate. Even with some of our shocking away performances we still have the 2nd best away record in Super League (although I reckon we'll be 3rd or 4th best by the end of the year). It didn't help that 5 of our fittest and hardest working players were all missing in a game where we really needed a bit of stamina and endurance to cope with the Wakefield pressure in the heat. Farrell, Bateman, Smithies and Havard make up 4 of our 5 top metre making forwards (and Ellis is the 5th and he's not 100% fit so only came on 2nd half and played reduced minutes). Add Powell to that list in defence and you've got our 5 hardest working defensive players. We ended up playing a large part of the game with a back row of Shorrocks, Isa and Partington who between them made 76 metres combined. That's what Smithies averages by himself in a game and less than Bateman (95 metres per game) and Farrell (111 metres per game). Did we still have enough quality to win? Of course. But that performance wasn't a huge surprise given how well Wakefield played and controlled the game once they took the lead. You need the forwards who go above and beyond to get back into a game like that and we didn't have them available.
  20. It was a really disappointing night from a Wigan point of view, but fortunately not so out of the blue that it would seriously knock my confidence. The truth is we've played in a similar manner a few times this season. I think the difference tonight is that Leeds were really enthusiastic and played well for the whole 80 minutes. It was a similar performance to the Catalans and Toulouse away games, where the defence is just so passive and lacking enthusiasm and when it comes to attacking nothing seemed to be going right. The Toulouse away performance was obviously masked by the late comeback where everything just happened to go right for us and wrong for them. Right from the start things just seemed off. Cust couldn't even get his passes to go anywhere near the right man and every pass just seemed to be too far in front or behind the man so there was no rhythm. A bad day at the office of which we've had a few this year. What we need to do is respond. We had two defeats in May where we conceded 63 points over both games, so not the end of the world, just a wake up call that we've still got a lot to focus on to reach the level of Saints. Fair play to Leeds though, they were very good throughout and could easily have put plenty more points on us. As for the controversial Newman try, ref just made a mistake but it really shows the ridiculousness of the procedure that the video ref looks at that and says he's going with the on field call. When diving through the legs Newman knocks Handley into Marshall and prevents him from making a tackle. It should have been a Leeds penalty for Farrell being offside. Fortunately it's not important in the grand scheme of things but it's one of those interesting decisions that crop up
  21. I've read plenty of thoughts from Wigan fans (and some non-Wigan fans) that it's a harsh ban for Singleton but to be honest I have no complaints. Once I saw the replay I was fairly certain it was going to be a red card and a 2 or 3 match ban. Gone are the days when you can throw yourself into a tackle without care and then claim an accident when a player alters their position. Players have to take into consideration the likelihood that a player might slip and adjust their technique accordingly. If you're aiming around the chest area and trying to get maximum force with the shoulder without wrapping the arm then you should know by now that any movement from the player could result in direct contact to the head and that's going to get a ban.
  22. The only way to stop players feigning injury and staying down long enough that the video ref is forced to see a replay is to go back to the way it used to be and stop the video ref from having any input. That's the only thing that will stop it. The protocols don't really give the ref much leeway. If a player stays down he has to stop play and then if he gets the instruction from the video ref he can't really ignore it. He also can't second guess what is or isn't a feigned injury. I've seen countless seemingly minor knocks to the head result in players failing concussion assessments and also some players return from nasty collisions. From the perspective of a fan it's frustrating. You want the sport to always be tough and you don't want to see the game end up like football where play acting is part of the game. On the other hand if I was a player the only thing that matters is winning the game and doing what's best for the team. If you're 2 points down and someone commits what you know is foul play you're potentially ruining your teams chances by getting up and brushing it off. The team comes first. It doesn't really matter what the rule is, if it exists then players will always look for ways to exploit it. Stripping the ball when you're confident officials are unsighted, trapping defenders to win penalties, it's all an extension of the same thing - that players will do whatever they can get away with in order to win and to get the decisions. Refs need to stick with their decisions and not be influenced by players staying down. In terms of video refs, the game has to weigh up what's more important - them having an input to rectify instances of foul play that may have been missed, or reducing instances of players staying down in the hope of winning penalties.
  23. I thought that was a fantastic game. The send off was massively frustrating (the correct decision though) but at least it made the defeat easier to take. I really didn't expect us to get anything out of it after going down to 12 men but that Bevan French try got the hopes up. Unfortunately we don't quite have the defensive strength to keep out a Saints team with a man advantage. Great effort though. In the first half we really struggled to make ground and it once again showed the Saints front row is stronger than Wigan's. It's a work in progress to keep improving in that area but Singleton today showed why Cooper is a sensible signing. Our senior prop isn't a pack leader, he's a liability and not much better than our young forwards. I was also a bit puzzled that Pearce-Paul didn't play. Had a strong game against Trinity yet he goes with Isa (who admittedly has played well at centre in the last couple of years) and Bibby, who I just don't get what is seen in him. Still, to be competing with Saints in these games is exactly where we need to be. There's still improvement needed but hopefully we can be at our best with our strongest squad at the end of the year.
  24. For all the talk of Saints missing players that's still a very strong team they've named. The outside backs are strong with Bennison the only youngster and to be honest he looks like a very handy player already. Welsby and Lomax as good as any halfback combination and even with Walmsley missing out a front row of Paasi, Roby and Lees is one of the strongest in the competition and stronger than Wigan's front row. Sironen, Batchelor and Knowles is a pretty good back row too. Wigan probably have the edge on the bench and hopefully if it's a tight game that's what could edge it for us. Wigan have had a very good run since the cup final but we've played beatable teams so I'm not sure you can read too much into it. The key will probably be whether Saints can dominate in the forwards (which they are more than capable of) and whether they can defend at their best and limit our scoring chances. Do that and our defence will probably leak enough points for Saints to get a win. The tide hasn't turned just yet. Saints will probably win if they are at their best but I think Wigan have done well this year to close the gap and I expect another close game.
  25. I agree. There's nothing necessarily wrong with having it on the mural. The mural itself doesn't say anything about it showing the greatest moments or that every moment is being celebrated. Every image on it is referenced around the edges and the Flower incident is in the section of 'Injuries, Tackles, Foul Play & Confrontation'. It's not 'celebrating' it just like it's not celebrating the fact Sam Tomkins got injured by depicting him on crutches. There are other depictions of players with serious injuries presented in a comedic way on there and some scraps too. I mean it also shows Phil Bentham lying on the floor with a broken leg. Whether presenting those incidents in such is a comical and flippant way is appropriate I'm not so sure. They couldn't really change the style just for certain images but they could have just gone for a slightly different depiction. Maybe the argument will be that they are going for the iconic images and the moment of Flower's punch is unfortunately the iconic image. Everyone will have their opinions. I'm not sure it's worth getting particularly upset over that depiction, I'm more disappointed that it includes Anthony Gelling.
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