Wigan Warriors boss Matt Peet on ‘impressive’ Sam Burgess’ impact at Warrington Wolves

MATT PEET has revealed his mutual respect and admiration for Warrington and their head coach Sam Burgess.

The Wolves have been reborn under rookie coach Burgess and are through to their first Challenge Cup final since 2019.

At Wembley they will face neighbours Wigan, who are gunning for their third major trophy in the past nine months after winning both Super League and the World Club Challenge.

Peet has been impressed by Warrington’s performances in 2024 and is expecting a hard-fought battle in London on June 8.

“They’re just together, aren’t they?” he told League Express.

“Warrington’s squad’s always had good players, but I just feel now they’ve got a resilience and a defensive focus. They’ve got belief – they believe in one another, they believe in the coach.

“It’s powerful isn’t it? I feel it’s going to be a massive challenge, and going forward as well. It’s already two good clubs with a lot of respect for each other, but I think it could have some exciting games against each other. There’s a lot of mutual respect between the two clubs.”

Warrington have a number of ex-Wigan players in theirs ranks such as Sam Powell, Toby King, George Williams, Matty Nicholson and Joe Bullock.

“There’s a lot of Wiganers over there – Karl’s (Fitzpatrick, CEO) a Wiganer, there’s Stef (Ratchford) and George (Williams),” Peet said.

“We’ve got Mike Cooper over here. It’s a small world, Rugby League, the tentacles pass. I love Sam Powell to bits as well.”

Burgess, in his first senior coaching role, has quickly transformed Warrington’s fortunes, and is now looking to emulate the achievement of Peet, who won the Challenge Cup in his first season as a head coach in 2022.

Peet has since collected every trophy on offer but speaks highly of the impact of the former England and South Sydney great at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

“I wouldn’t say I know Sam well, but I got to know him really when George Burgess was here,” he said.

“Because I had a good relationship with George. Chatting to him and chatting to Sam, sometimes Sam would check in on George and we’d get chatting about rugby and he’d just always, to me, despite everything he’s achieved in his career, he’s always seemed like a good guy.

“He speaks sense, understands what it takes to be a champion team, he’s experienced it. He’s got a real understanding of team culture and obviously he’s a special person as a player and he’s taken that into his coaching now.

“Every time I hear him speak about Warrington, right from the first interview to post-game, he always speaks sense. He’s very level-headed. He’s been very respectful, very impressive and I think the team is a reflection of him.

“The way they’re defending now and the way they turn up for each other, it’s built all over pre-season. The hard work and the camps they did and all the meetings. Togetherness – you can’t just give it to them, you have to work at it.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,433 (June 3, 2024)

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