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Everything posted by EagleEyePie

  1. I'd hope Havard starts. He was our best player pre-lockdown. I think a lot could depend on how much the new rules have an effect on teams. Our discipline isn't always the best and I think if we give away lots of repeat sets we could struggle. With Flower and Partington out we're missing our two best props defensively. Burgess, Bullock and Byrne are probably our weakest in defence and the ones I'd worry about if Wakefield forced us into doing a lot of defending. The other side to that is if we get on a bit of a roll and make Wakefield do a lot of defending then Burgess, Bullock and Byrne could really be a handful. For this match I think it will just be a case of play the strongest side possible with the usual tactics and then see if the six again rule has any impact. We have a stronger squad than Wakefield but we've seen before that they are well coached and have beaten us easily in recent memory. Our last game before lockdown, against Salford, highlighted we weren't as strong as our league position suggested.
  2. The guy made his choice, just as everyone else did. He doesn't owe anyone an explanation though. We should just leave him to it. At the start of the year it seemed most people didn't want him going on about his personal views. We can't now be demanding he explains himself. No doubt someone will try to ask him but he doesn't need to respond. I'd rather hear more from players who want to talk about their experiences of racism and how to be actively anti-racist than trying to coax something controversial from Folau.
  3. https://www.wigantoday.net/sport/football/exclusive-wigan-warriors-led-bid-buy-wigan-athletic-2906124 I mentioned earlier in the thread that I could see this being Lenagan's plan rather than purely buying the stadium. As far as local businessmen with considerable knowledge of football and experience owning a football club (and a rugby club) go, he'd be the obvious candidate to try to organise a consortium to buy the club.
  4. Orrell is worth £3 million based on the last accounts, but it's likely to generate less than that if it was actually sold. I'll take your word for it regarding access, but it's hard to see any other way of creating access other than through Edge Hall Road without demolishing houses. Still, the club won't raise anywhere near enough to finance a new stadium purely through the sale of Orrell. Temporary stands at Robin Park would be a temporary solution. The stadium would never have made enough profit to subsidise football. It would have to generate over £10 million to cover that alone. All it really has to make money are football and rugby income, pitch rental, conference facilities and income from bars/restaurants. It also faces competition from Bolton because the facilities available are just as good, if not better, and it's location is better for those travelling from out of town.
  5. Fair point, but either way it's hard to see the stadium itself as profitable. There may be 'potential' from increasing events and holding concerts, but the fact that the only time there isn't sport being played there is when the pitch is relaid means there isn't the same opportunity for pop concerts like those held at Bolton's stadium. Neither club is likely to be able to increase rental payments, ticket sales aren't going to increase significantly and conference facilities won't bring in much money either. They've been unable to find a naming sponsor too. This is before you take the Covid pandemic issues into account.
  6. The rugby club wouldn't fold, but Wigan Athletic are owners of Wigan Football Company Ltd that own the stadium. The stadium loses £1.5m a year and is only propped up by loans from the parent company (or at least it was). If Wigan Athletic were to fold, the stadium company goes with it. Wigan RL wouldn't buy the stadium because they couldn't cover the current losses, nevermind the losses they'd incur without professional football there. It's currently not worth anything to investors because of the covenants on the land. The council wouldn't operate it and incur the losses. They'd only buy it for redevelopment and remove the restrictions they put in place. If the stadium ceased to operate then Wigan would have to find somewhere else to play initially, and would lose hundreds of thousands as a result. They have Orrell but it can't be developed into a Super League standard stadium. It may have value to be sold off as housing but there's a real issue with access which could put investors off, as there's only one narrow road to access it. You'd struggle to get 20 odd houses with only that access road. Robin Park is operated by Wigan RL but not owned. Developing it into a ground would presumably require council permission, which would no doubt require keeping the athletics facilities which would massively impact on the amount of space available to build, and so it's unlikely you'll get a big enough stadium on that land unless there was somewhere else in the town for athletics facilities to be built. And ultimately this might not be the best time to be trying to gather funds to finance a stadium. Wigan Athletic pretty much have to survive as a football league club for Wigan RL to survive as a competitive SL club.
  7. They've been losing it because of the cost of the players.
  8. It's not about the empty seats, it's about the lack of income from seats that weren't anticipated to be empty. If you're building a stadium you're going to need a rough idea of how many fans you think the club playing there is likely to attract and balance that against the running costs. If you're anticipating crowds of around 16,000 though, and only get 10,000 then that's 6,000 fewer tickets/season tickets and 6,000 people not spending money on food and drink at the grounds, buying programs, betting or taking part in half time draws. Pretty much all modern stadiums have corporate/exhibition facilities as an extra money maker. There's likely to be a limit on how much they are used, and how much you can charge people to use them though. The local economy will make a difference there, including how many other places in the area can cater for similar functions. I don't think it's a coincidence that Bolton had similarly massive financial problems. It's not all to do with stadiums, or even mostly to do with stadiums, but the fact that these arenas were built with Premier League football in mind and presumably attendances to match surely hasn't helped now that they are almost always more than half empty on match days.
  9. There certainly could be an element of that. One thing I often wonder is how much a players career can be decided by chance. Williams had the physical advantage of Hampshire which meant he made his debut off the bench at hooker. He then got 2 games in the halves and he impressed. His ability to play hooker got him a bench spot for several games in the following season. For a stand-in hooker no one was expecting him to be James Roby. Any mistakes he made in that role were probably much easier to miss (passing the wrong side, scooting at the wrong times) and defensively he was sound. Hence he could keep his place in the side. Hampshire's only other suitable position was fullback, and any mistake in that position tends to be more noticeable (like a goalkeeper in football). In a way that could have been his downfall. Yes he lacked physical presence and struggled a bit making tackles, but he didn't get the chance to develop as a halfback because why would you put a weak defender there when you've got George Williams. While both Williams and Hampshire got their chances at a similar time, neither ousted Green or Smith. But Williams played 26 games before being made our starting 6, and 10 of those were at halfback. In that period of time, Hampshire had only played 15 games. The number of times Hampshire played in the halves during that time? Once. Hampshire played 30 games for Wigan in total yet only 2 of those were in his preferred position. Given how halfback is going to be a tricky position to master and probably needs time to develop in, to say he was in the right place at the wrong time is probably very accurate. Wigan gave him plenty of opportunities, and Williams is the example of how things could have gone for him, but ultimately the presence of Williams was the problem. Faced with competing against a similarly talented player who was much better defensively, he didn't stand much of a chance in Wane's team. In fact Hampshire has only played about 30% of his professional rugby in either of the two half positions. He's certainly never been afforded time in that position. Blake Green was a utility in the NRL at the same stage in his career having never really got a consistent run as a halfback. He went on to be outstanding for Rovers and Wigan when he got the chance in his preferred position, so Hampshire's career still has the potential to take off.
  10. Every case has to be based on the circumstances and the individuals. In Smith's case though, he's been absolutely outstanding for the academy side, was head and shoulders above his Australian counterparts when playing for England Academy against the Australian schoolboys and was by far the most creative player in that series. He was outstanding for Swinton while on loan, with several man of the match performances and generally looked a stand out player at that level. The issue though, is that you can't take anything for granted. He probably should have been given his opportunity in the Wigan fist team sooner, but he's getting that opportunity now in the way that you would expect. We had an injury, he was brought into the side, he played well so he's kept his place. He's getting his opportunity and he's on the way to taking it. The issue is though that he's playing alongside a quality halfback in Hastings, and is supported by another experienced halfback in Leuluai. There's a difference between going into 2021 with Smith earmarked as starting 7 but also bringing in cover as a back up, and going into 2021 without Hastings or Leuluai and having Smith bear the brunt of the responsibility as a playmaker. Williams was given an opportunity to be first choice 6, but some forget that he had a fair number of first team appearances to his name at the time. He didn't go from academy to first team. He went from academy, to back-up to first choice when Green left. After just 5 first team games Smith is inexperienced. Wigan could take the risk, but we still need cover. Besides being good at academy level and in the Championship doesn't mean you're guaranteed to make it. An example would be Josh Ganson. He was almost unplayable at times in the academy, and in his few dual reg games with Swinton he was impressive too. Should he have been thrown in at 9 instead of the under-performing Powell? Well Ganson got a couple of first team games, was disappointing, didn't really impress when loaned out in the Championship again, struggled to attract clubs in the Championship and last I was aware of he had a 4 week trial with Widnes. It's not as simple as good young player = future Super League player. Ryan Hampshire is another who was a superstar academy player. He was probably considered by many to be better than Williams - was the England academy captain, top points scorer in pretty much every game, got more man of the match awards than any player I can remember, but in Super League he struggled to make his mark for a long time. He's still only 25, but he's a long way from what people were expecting of him.
  11. It's a fair point, but I think ultimately the best team in Super League is generally the one with the strongest defence, so teams are wary of having players that can be targeted defensively. Plus, it depends how big the weakness is too. Smith currently offers something that the team has lacked for a while - which is a good long kicking game. He also makes up for the loss of Williams' short kicking game. That's why he's managed to keep his place in the team even with Leuluai returning and the obvious issue of trying to fit all our talented forwards into the side. However, he's only played 5 Super League games, and not all of those have been starts. If he's one of our first choice halves by the end of the year then there's no reason for him not to start 2021 in the same role. Right now though, it's perfectly sensible to consider a players potential weaknesses along with their strengths when deciding whether to make them first choice next season and not sign any cover. What if his form isn't impressive when the season returns?
  12. I think that's a huge risk. It worked for Wigan with Williams but it's worth pointing out that Williams was an exceptionally strong defender, not just for his age but for any halfback. That meant Wane could stick him in without any worry for one major aspect of the game that is typically a weakness for young halves. Harry Smith on the other hand does have a weakness defensively, despite his attacking strengths. Plus, he's only just made it into the side and is playing alongside Hastings. If Hastings stays then I'd be concerned to rely so much on Smith but it's not the end of the world. If Hastings was to leave though I think we wouldn't have enough attacking threat even if Leuluai remained.
  13. Wigan suffered in a similar way back in 2005. We lost Lam and Farrell at the end of 2004 which was a massive blow. Dennis Moran replacing Lam was a massive step down. Not only that, but we also lost Craig Smith, Terry O'Connor, Mick Cassidy, Quentin Pongia and Danny Sculthorpe at the same time. Add to that the 2005 injury crisis that saw key players like Radlinski and Hock miss large parts of the season. In some ways the injuries in 2005 were used as an excuse to cover the real issue which was the loss of so much talent and leadership all at once. It came close to completely ruining the club.
  14. It's good news for Wigan and for Super League in general, and more importantly it's the news his family probably wanted too. As barnyia said, the recent situation has probably been particularly difficult for him given his daughter was on the other side of the world. It's bad enough being thousands of miles apart but then lockdown comes along and makes it even harder than simply just booking the next flight. It seems like ultimately the only thing that would have kept him in the NRL is a huge amount of money - where the justification would have been that he may be spending even more time away from his daughter but he'd be earning enough to support him and his daughter once his career ends. I'd say it's pretty likely he'll be earning less at Wigan than at Canberra. I think the Aussie press was reporting quite a difference between the amounts offered. Ultimately though, he knows Wigan, he'll get a much longer deal and there's a greater chance of stability, along with the fact that he's earning decent money and can see his daughter. Bateman will presumably be our shirt number 13 next year and probably also named captain, while O'Loughlin will confirm his retirement. Hopefully Wigan can also keep hold of Hastings for another year, as finding a suitable replacement for him could be difficult in the current circumstances. Losing O'Loughlin, Hastings and Leuluai all in one year removes a lot of intelligence and playmaking ability from the side and for me that would be too much all at once unless a quality playmaker was brought in as a replacement.
  15. It's incredibly unlikely that the administrators are going to consider selling the stadium. They are trying to sell the club and all its assets together and it's hardly going to entice someone to buy the club if they sold off the stadium to someone else first. Perhaps a co-ownership agreement could be reached, but there's no way that any money would be coming from Wigan RL directly. Whether Lenagan has the money or the desire to buy a share in the ground remains to be seen, but I highly doubt it. I can only see the administrators agreeing to such a deal if things were looking really bleak and they need the money as quickly as possible. As for the RFL getting involved, I just don't see any logic behind that at all, especially not during the biggest crisis the sport has faced in decades. I think there's more chance of Ian Lenagan buying into Latics as part of a consortium with other local businessmen than actually trying to buy the stadium for the Warriors. He's a Latics fan, has previous experienced owning a football club (Oxford Utd) and is a former chairman of the Football League, so I do wonder if it's something that might cross his mind. Speculating on how someone else might spend their money seems a bit weird though. I can't see Wigan RL wanting to be responsible for the ground though. The current deal works very well in our favour. The new facilities at Robin Park will hopefully help to reduce one of the negatives that is the lack of income from hospitality. If the ground was owned by Wigan RL we'd be more dependent on the income from Latics than they are on income from RL right now. Everyone can see the ground is far too big for the attendances that both clubs are getting right now. There's always the opportunity to bring in money by other means like hosting concerts and other events, but ultimately Wigan is not the most desirable place to hold events. The local economy will play some part in how much the stadium can generate away from football and rugby.
  16. As said above, Wigan generally produce more of this country's best young players. I can't remember how many academy Grand Final's the club has won but I think it's something like 9 of the last 10. It's testament to the quality within Wigan but also that the club scouts from other areas. Having the reputation of the being the strongest academy and a club that will promote young players is attractive to players from other parts of the country. That's why along with Wigan-based players our academy brings through plenty from other areas. While the Australian media often seems to be ignorant about Super League and it's players, NRL scouts certainly aren't. They don't just watch Super League games and identify a few players who play well, they keep tabs on our academy players too. Ryan Sutton was generating interest from the NRL since he was a teenager. So NRL scouts will always be keeping close tabs on the most promising youngsters (quite a lot coming from Wigan) as well as just generally the best players in the competition (again, quite a lot playing for Wigan). Those who were on their radar as youngsters AND quickly become some of the best players in the competition probably stand an even greater chance of being approached by NRL clubs. Wigan also have a lot of young players who have already experienced success at a young age, so the obvious next step is often to test themselves further. If you experience success in one area at the age of 22, it's only natural to start looking for the next test. Add to that the fact that young players are probably less likely to be in serious relationships and having settled down with families, that's one less thing to tie them down to Super League and Wigan. It's the reason Joe Burgess wanted to move to the NRL - he didn't know if he'd get the chance later down the line. That attitude is probably mirrored by the Williams, Sutton and I'd say Gildart too. Then you have Harry Rushton, who, presumably due to the success of UK based players in the NRL, has been chased a little more purposefully than if he'd been coming through the ranks a few years ago. The fact that Williams and Sutton are at Canberra makes a potentially scary career decision for an 18-year-old much easier. The departure of Luke Thompson shows that every clubs best players are under threat. We have to hope that we can sign some good quality NRL players in return to counter any reduction in quality.
  17. Can't see any way that it would. It might benefit a few clubs who are worried about not being able to spend to the cap and falling behind others by holding back those who intend to pay their players what they agreed and have the ability to do so. Super League players are already paid less than their peers in the NRL and Rugby Union competitions and enforcing what will effectively be league-wide wage reductions or significant contract terminations will play into the hands of those rivals. This season Super League features some fantastic players. It's the best it's been for years and it finally looked like we were emerging from the bad old days following the financial crisis where the league lost its marquee players and the whole competition became stagnant.
  18. This wasn't the Super League War 2.0. It never was, nor was it ever intended to be, a complete breakaway by Super League clubs from the rest of the game. It was a move to give Super League greater autonomy and a bigger say in commercial aspects of the sport that primarily involved them. It was pretty much a way to give Super League clubs a say in negotiating the next TV deal which they didn't have previously, due in part to the way the last TV deal was announced and the absolute shambles that was the Super 8's that basically left the flagship competition looking considerably less valuable than the years before. Super League and the RFL were generally co-operative, particularly around the time of the EGM, which didn't go down well with some Championship and League One clubs. It's clear both Super League and the RFL need each other. It certainly seems like no bridges were burned either, despite the RFL being keen to keep the game solely under their umbrella. Now though there's a crisis that threatens the entire sport so it's no surprise that Super League and the RFL may re-unite. Both will need to cut costs. The priority for Super League, along with everyone else, will be survival rather than growth, so it would be little surprise to see Robert Elstone's role disappear.
  19. Much more exciting game than expected. Wigan looked okay in the first half but I felt like we should have put more points on them. Hastings was well looked after and as a result French had little impact too. Powell and Farrell were dangerous but no one else was really threatening. We were probably looking towards Leuluai to maybe offer a bit more but he's been fairly quiet this year. Second half was pretty dismal for Wigan. Salford were dominant in the pack but I don't think Lam's decision to have Powell/Leuluai in that hybrid hooker/loose forward role helped. No doubt it was down to the Bibby injury and having to move Smithies to second row, but with our props not making much ground at that point having halves at loose adds to the problem. Sarginson was outstanding. He was much maligned at Wigan but his carries and work rate are unmatched. This is the sort of game that he would make a huge difference in. Wigan's pack would often be dominated but having Sarginson there to make effective carries was like having another forward on the field. Wigan needed to be ruthless but just seemed to sit back and Salford pounced. With Burgess, Clark and Byrne we didn't have the strongest defence among our middles and the carries from Salford's outside backs gave those 3 a torrid time. We paid the price there for Flower and Partington's bans as those two are our best defensive players. On a positive note, I thought for the second time in as many games Ethan Havard was the best prop forward on the field. He was outstanding against Hull KR last week and even better last night. Phenomenal work rate, good carries, exceptional defence. He's the best prop prospect this country has had since James Graham.
  20. I think he'll be looking at 3-5 games for it. Joe Shorrocks got 5 games for a tackle that was probably worse in our academy game against Widnes. I don't think there was anything malicious in it. Flower has been playing for 12 years and as a mobile prop it's his job to be the one to bend his back and tackle the legs and in all that time I don't think he's done so in a dangerous manner. That's why these tackles are such an issue though. You might be able to tackle someone safely and without risk most of the time, but get the wrong timing, the wrong angle, and the risks to a player are huge. Hopefully Storton is okay.
  21. There's some real threat in that Hull side. The pack was pretty good on the whole and Houghton always a threat from dummy half. Throw in some strong running backs like Fonua and Griffin and there was plenty to keep Wigan's defence on their toes but they stood up quite well. The biggest difference between the sides were Wigan's defence and Hull's poor halves. The only tries Hull scored were soft - one an intercept when the otherwise impeccable Bevan French went a bit OTT on a mazy run and threw a poor pass and they went the length of the field, the other blind side run from the scrum where Hardaker should have done much better. The intercept try should have been a bit of a game changer as Hull started piling on a bit of pressure, but absolutely nothing came of it. Sneyd, Connor and Shaul were completely ineffective, whereas Hastings, Leuluai and French offered far more. Even Harry Smith offered more than the Hull halves and he only played about 15 minutes. I'm sure Hull will have more to offer as the season goes on but it wasn't a great performance this afternoon and Wigan were fairly comfortable. Great to see Dom Manfredi back after his rotten luck with injuries. He got better as the game went on and really got stuck in returning the ball - bagged a try too. Hopefully a good run in the side will see him back to his best.
  22. 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!
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Paul Anderson is the England Knights coach and England assistant coach, so probably the Southgate equivalent.
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