‘I knew he could do it’: Kris Radlinski on ‘brave decision’ to appoint Matt Peet at Wigan Warriors

KRIS RADLINSKI says he always knew Matt Peet would be up to the job as Wigan Warriors head coach.

Peet had more than a decade of experience coaching at the club in a variety of roles but was a surprise appointment to take the role last year following Adrian Lam’s exit.

His first season saw Wigan secure their 20th Challenge Cup triumph, plus finish second in the Super League table before missing out on the Grand Final because of a semi-final defeat to Leeds Rhinos.

Although ending on a disappointing note it was a positive campaign overall and executive director Radlinski, who enjoyed 13 years with the club as a player and has now spent the same amount of time on their staff, says their decision to trust Peet has been justified.

“If we rewind twelve months, people were sceptical,” Radlinski told the latest issue of Rugby League World. 

“A lot of them hadn’t heard of Matty Peet. Some thought it was a cheap option. 

“We went into 2022 with so many people unsure, but we were clear with what we wanted to do.

“Crowds came back towards the end of the season. The Cup Final was amazing for the club. So many people loved the Tottenham experience, and it helped a lot of our fans regain the faith.

“I knew Matt could do it. I’ve spoken to him every day for ten years. I know his work ethic. He learns so much about the sport and other sports. 

“It was a brave decision but putting Shaun Wane alongside him (as leadership and management director) was a big step. Shaun’s here two days a week and offers him support. Matty runs things by him, and they have a great chemistry.”

Peet has also been assisted by club legend Sean O’Loughlin and Lee Briers, who is leaving after one season for a role at Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.

“Sean O’Loughlin has managed the transition from player to coach better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Radlinski. 

“The long hours and attention to detail – he’s got there quicker than I thought. He has a great aura and real humility.

“Lee Briers came in too. We interviewed him in a quiet pub because I didn’t want anyone to see us. He was getting up, moving chairs and tables around to show lines of running. 

“I don’t think he thought he’d enjoy it as much as he did. He, his partner and his dad literally fell in love with the club. 

“He found it difficult coming to the club to tell us he had a new opportunity elsewhere, but I have no doubt he’ll be back at the club one day.

“We’ll miss Lee’s enthusiasm and bubbly character, but we get Tommy (Leuluai, who is joining the coaching staff following retirement). He is obsessed with the sport. He’s quiet but when he speaks, he’s bang on the money.”

* Read the full interview with Kris Radlinski in the latest issue of Rugby League World, out now at totalrl.com/shop