Whether you thought
that Brisbane game was a big contest or a “glorified friendly”, the
fact almost 21,000 turned out for it just can’t be ignored.
Last week I wrote
about being under whelmed by the qualification towards this World
Club Series, but the weekend was an enjoyable one for me. The poor
state of the pitch didn’t allow for a great game in terms of skill
at Wigan but it was a fantastic battle and we should take a lot
from how we performed defensively in particular.
Saints heavy loss
to South Sydney I’m sure was enjoyed by a few reading this but I
don’t think it should have come as such a surprise.
I’d argue that
Saints team are, by far, the most inexperienced champions to ever
contest a World Club Challenge. The old “Top 8” play off system was
so weak in my eyes that it just didn’t prepare Saints well enough
for the challenge of South Sydney and winning the Grand Final
against twelve men for 79 minutes didn’t do them any favours
either. They also had very limited test experience to draw upon
when compared to Wigan’s side that had seven England Internationals
and a former Queensland Full Back.
I’m confident the
new “Super 8s” and then “Top 4” play offs this season will ensure a
far more competitive and intense league here and that can only help
if the World Club Series is repeated next year. I wouldn’t write
this idea off too soon.
Meanwhile, in the
post match press conference on Saturday coach Shaun Wane was asked
about John Bateman and he said “if you compare John to Sean
O’Loughlin when he was 21, he’s way in front!”
That’s high praise
indeed because you have to remember that Lockers was made Wigan
captain when he was just 22. We only see John on the field
obviously but I can see where he is coming from with that
statement. The season is still in its toddler stage but the signs
from Bateman have been fantastic so far, particularly in attack.
In fact I was
thinking that had Lockers been fit last Saturday, it would have
been an incredibly tough choice of who to drop to the bench in the
Sarginson was always coming back in at centre, Joel Tomkins was up
for moving back into the forwards and he’d started well scoring
three tries in the first two games. Bateman had been great like
I’ve said and Liam Farrell has started 69 games since he last
appeared off the bench.
So which one of
Joel, Bateman or Farrell would you have dropped? It would have been
a harsh call and I was even debating that on form so far this year
Lockers might have been up for being dropped. Yes I know,
unthinkable, but let’s hope this top form continues!