Well, last week did not go to plan did it? It now puts huge
pressure on us going into this Leeds game and the last thing we
needed was a suspension to Liam Farrell and more importantly an
injury in the centres to George Carmont, the one position we
really couldn't afford to get an injury.|
Plenty of panic around
after that one defeat but personally I couldn't be more calm. I'd
be calm even if we lose on Saturday to be honest. Why? Well I
bring up this point again that I made in my
Season Preview back on January 11th......
"I feel we may have to have a patient twelve months before
(Shaun Wane) can really be judged. Why? Well I just think our
squad has too many questions and not enough answers this time
I think we're already seeing that proven and clearly, looking
at the 19 man squad, coach Wane has decided that Anthony Gelling
isn't ready for action, so that leaves us with a bigger hole to
fill in the centres. Jack Hughes looks likely to fill in, but its
a gamble with it being an alien role for him. But like I said last
week, we need to experiment with the youngsters to improve our
squad depth, so maybe now is the best time to do that?
The loss last week, on top of the injury/suspensions, will have
many predicting a Leeds win here but Wigan can compete. I'll say
again, perhaps it was good that we only lost narrowly to
Huddersfield considering that pretty much all our key players were
way off the pace? Sam Tomkins, Brett Finch, Thomas Leuluai, Mike
McIlorum and Sean O'Loughlin might has well have sat in deckchairs
for 80 minutes because they, uncharacteristically, made very
little impact on the game. Ok, Sam scored a try but for his high
standards, he was quiet and O'Loughlin was missing some bad
tackles, totally not like him at all.
You simply cannot have the spine of your team all off key. I
mean if Leeds turn up here on Saturday with Brent Webb, Danny
McGuire, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield all putting in quiet,
ineffective performances - would you still back Leeds to win? I'd
give them no chance!
Last week all pointed towards Wane having got his pre season
match preparation totally wrong. Under Madge the boys always
reacted well to defeats, so this week should tell us an awful lot.
I expect a big reaction and will take that even if we lose again.
I mentioned likely that Jack Hughes will come in, in place of
Carmont, but the other hole to fill is replacing the Ginger Pearl,
Liam Farrell, who was outstanding against the Giants. What a shame
he picked up a ban. The 19 man squad suggests it'll be Tom Spencer
to get the nod for a debut. He's had an excellent pre season and
has took his chance well because I think fellow reserve prop Dom
Crosby who have been ahead of him had he not been injured this pre
I've said before, Spencer came out the shadows somewhat when
Crosby went out on dual-reg to Widnes last year and had an
excellent second half of the Under 20s season. He also had
experience of touring South Africa with a BARLA Under 18s side in
The fact Greg Burke is in the 19 shows that Wane is going to
have a hell of a lot of faith in the youngsters in our academy and
that opportunities are their for them to aim for. I like Burke a
lot but I'm not sure I'd make him quite ready for the first team
but he's similar to Farrell in many respects because he has an
elusive bit of pace on him. I don't expect him to figure here at
all but the fact he has made a 19 man squad must be a huge boost
of confidence for him.
So, my summation of this preview is that I wouldn't be
surprised if we won. I don't expect it though, but I'm looking at
our performance here. I want to see a re-action to last week and I
want to see the key men up the spine of the side performing better
than they did in the opener. It shouldn't happen, but you can
excuse a bit of rustiness in Round 1, not so much in Round 2!
The stats suggest though that this will be an away win. In the
last ten years almost half of the victories that the clubs have
achieved between them have been away from home, that's seven away
wins each. So it is a fixture that favours the travelling side.
However, Wigan have won four of the last six meetings here at the
DW! So let's hope its a Cherry and White night of celebration on
Saturday Night and we're not left regretting going the match
instead of watching that brilliant programme "Take me Out" on (sh)ITV