Well after last week's scandalous performance in Cardiff, I'm
really not sure if a cup match is exactly what we need or the last
thing we need. Only time will tell I suppose but the SM Pia match
last month did nothing for us.
Brian Noble is talking about the "need to respond" but how can
you respond in a match like this. You could win 30-0 and some
would see that as a poor show.
One key quote from Noble was - "Excuses are running out for
certain people." For me not certain people but the whole bloody
team is running out of excuses. No one in that 17 is standing up
and saying - right I'm going to lead us out of this mess, I'm
going to take control and lead us around the park. Trent Barrett
did it in patches for us last season but this year he's been a
total dead duck and no one else is coming forward.
In the centres and wing positions I think we are getting some
decent returns, especially when you consider that we are some lame
in attack. 1, 6, 7, 9 and 13 however are producing nothing in attack. They
have offered 7 league tries (four of them by Leuluai) between them this season. Leeds full back
Brent Webb has scored more them those five together on his own!!
Just notice the difference as I compare with the returns of
what I would consider the first choice if fit 1, 6, 7, 9 and 13's
of those sides above us in the table.
Leeds in total have 24 tries from those positions.
Saints have 19 tries
and that includes dead duck Paul Sculthorpe.
17 with their 7 (Casey McGuire) having played just 5 times.
Bradford have just 5 from those positions.
Warrington have 14 tries from those positions.
Wakefield have just
6 tries but Brad Drew and Jason Demetriou have both been
long term injured.
Now we could argue all day over whether I've got the right
players for each team as their regular 1, 6, 7, 9 and 13 in those
tallies above but it does highlight the difference doesn't it.
Some as you can see are actually worse than us but other sides
have more than twice our tally and that is the difference in the
Our real big problem for me is hooker. Mike McIlorum is doing a
decent job but is still a raw prospect. Mick Higham though should
be producing more. He hasn't scored on an away venue for Wigan
since Brian Noble's first match in charge more than two years ago
now (although he did score in our last two games on neutral
venues). In total his try scoring return away from home for Wigan
since he joined in 2006 is a massive two!! I remember Terry Newton
scoring four in one match at Widnes in 2004! That return is not
good enough and the proof is in the facts, he can have no
complaints when Wigan release him at the end of the year.
Richard Mathers had a shocker last week. A few weeks a go on
the board, when Mathers was coming back from his suspension, I
argued venomously that he was doing a decent job and that it
wasn't worth playing the solid Pat Richards at full back as it
would take away from his aerial talent out wide. But I've probably
been proved wrong on that point. Mathers' goal line one on one
defence has been poor, certainly in the last two games. He has got
a lot to prove for me.
Last year we finished third in the play offs and prospects were
high for this season but clearly there is still a lot of work to
be done at Wigan. One thing I will say though is that at least we
are now planning years in advance. A lot of the current squad is
contracted down for two or three years and that's how to do
things. Get a solid base and then build round it. In previous
years it always seems to be a case of looking at next year and
that's it. Your not going to become a strong force doing that.
As for this Monday's cup tie, this really should be another cup formality for Wigan. I
watched Whitehaven play professional opposition in the form of
Salford on TV a couple of weeks back and despite plenty of effort
against a unmotivated Salford outfit they lamented to a 36-6
This will be the fifth time Wigan have drawn Whitehaven in the
cup and all the previous clashes at been at home (two of them
since we moved to JJB Stadium) and they have all been comfortable
The first clash was back in 1958 which resulted in a 39-10 win
at Central Park. Mick Sullivan scored an hatrick whilst the late
Eric Ashton and Billy Boston chipped in with two tries each. Wigan
went on to beat Workington in the final that year.
The second clash was in 1966. Wigan won 40-6 with Trevor Lake
scoring 4 of the 10 tries. Wigan again made the final that year
but lost to Saints at Wembley.
The Wigan v Whitehaven cup clash of 2000 was actually Wigan's
first victory at JJB Stadium as they hammered them 98-4. Jason
Robinson scored a hatrick and Tony Smith went over twice whilst
Steve Renouf (2) and Brett Dallas scored debut tries. In total
Wigan scored 17 tries and 15 goals that day and the result remains
our second biggest win of all time.
In 2005 Haven fared much better but it was still a comfortable
42-4 Wigan win. The Cumbrians scored the games first try but
replies from Stephen Wild (2), Dave Allen (2), Wayne Godwin, Kris
Radlinski and Brett Dallas saw Wigan progress. Fat good that did
as a awful match against UTC and THAT defeat at St Helens were to
A Whitehaven fan was saying on our board this week that they
are not the National League 1 force they once were when they
reached consecutive NL1 Grand Finals in 2004 and 2005. Even for
our current frailties it is fair to say we have a better team than
2005 so I would expect 50 at least!
There is talk in the local paper that Thomas Leuluai will come
back and play despite his long journey down under to play in
Friday morning's Anzac test. Brian Noble says "I want to see
(Tommy) taking on Whitehaven. It's going to be a tight schedule,
but if he can make it, then he will play."
Why? There's a great prospect in Sam Tomkins playing in our
reserves - this is ideal opportunity to try him out. I mean what
happens if we lose Leuluai to injury? We have not got any tested
replacements at 7. Seems daft to me. Give the lad a chance!!