I think it's fair to say that March was a very tough month for
Wigan but April and May should give Wigan a great opportunity to
really get this season motoring forward.|
It is worth pointing
out that we haven't played any of the current bottom three sides
so far this season and that will be rectified in the next few
weeks. Of course wins cannot be guaranteed but it's a safe bet we
will now get on a good run with seven of our next eight fixtures
coming up against sides in the bottom half of the table. It's a
perfect opportunity to put a big assault on first place,
especially considering Warrington cocked up big style last
Catalan showed last week in beating Warrington that on their
day they can frustrate and beat the big boys but the trouble is
they also quite often put in performances of complete garbage when
playing in the UK. In 2008 and 2009 they came here to Wigan and
battled out two very close contests, winning one and losing one,
but they've also lost 58-0, 40-4 and 30-0 here over the years.
The question is can they back up that Warrington performance
again at Wigan just five days later? I've got to be honest I don't
think they can. What they like to do is frustrate and keep the
crowd very quiet. It's exactly what they did to Warrington. I
listened the match on Wire FM and you could hear a pin drop in the
background. Hull FC certainly quietened the Wigan crowd last month
and it needed a red card to lift us for the late rally but their
is one big difference this time round.
That difference is the return of the legend Pat Richards. I
think it's fair to call him a proper Wigan legend now he has a
title medal, a man of steel, can goal kick for fun and his try
scoring record is amazingly impressive for the modern day Super
Do you know he has an 83.4% strike rate when he's started on
the wing for Wigan. That's 86 tries in 103 starts out wide. At
full back that strike rate drops dramatically to 36.5% (15 tries
in 41 starts at Full Back) and that is why you never, ever
consider moving Pat off the wing.
To put that wing strike rate into some perspective, Jason
Robinson, who is one of the finest wingers I've ever seen, and in
both codes of Rugby as well, had a strike rate of just 63% during
his Wigan career when he started on either wing (that's 152 tries
in 241 wing starts).
I think it's fair to say Robinson played in far better sides
that Richards? Either way, it's amazing to just try to contemplate
in my head that Pat is a 20% better winger than Robinson, but in
terms of prolific try scoring, that is a fact!
Now overall Pat has a 69% strike rate if you include his full
back and odd centre appearances but his wing only strike rate is
only really beaten overall by the likes of Jim Leytham, Jack
Hilton, Johnny Lawrenson, Brian Nordgren, Billy Boston, Trevor
Lake, Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah - anyone who knows their
Wigan history will know that is some pretty fine company to
I have been cursing and cursing and cursing our poor last
tackle options in recent match reports but having Pat back on the
left wing gives us the option of using his prowess in the air.
When he leaps like a gazelle for the ball he is unstoppable if he
collects. Only last week in the Under 20s he scored one of his
trademark tries from a kick (click
here to view). It'll be fantastic to have him back fit and I
haven't even mentioned his goal kicking in telling you why!
It is understood that Pat will start with Brett Finch also
coming back into the starting line up. It's been a tough baptism
for Brett to start his Wigan career against Warrington and Leeds
(amazingly some Wigan fan's are already on his back,
seriously.......go to your rooms!) but I expect he will have more
time to find his rhythm against the French. I've no doubt Finch
will come good in the next few weeks, especially if Paul Deacon
returns to play along side him. The official site says Deacon is
"not too far away" so maybe we will see that combo when Good
Friday comes round against Saints?
The other change looks set to be young prop Dominic Crosby
being given a debut for the suspended Jeff Lima. I'll be very
pleased if that happens. Dom only joined our academy, at the late
age of 19, ahead of last season but has improved from a very raw
looking player into a very accomplished front row. Definitely
deserves his chance. He has grafted his way towards it with
consistently solid performances in the Under 20s. It says a lot
that in the eyes of the coaching staff he has worked his way ahead
of Ben Davies (currently on loan at Barrow) who I don't think
would let us down either.
Coach Maguire could opt for Stefan Marsh or Josh Charnley ahead
of him but that would be a wrong decision in my view. This is a
perfect game to give Dom a debut in. Who knows, he may well be
needed further over the busy Easter period and it's better to play
him now than perhaps needing to throw him into a Good Friday debut
or something like that.
Catalan have suffered a blow with Clint Greenshields being
ruled out for three months. Also top try and goal kicker for them,
Scott Dureau, was stretchered off at Warrington last week after
being sent to hospital for x-rays on his neck. Apparently he ran
the show for them last week and one look at their player stats
down the page tells you how vital he to them in attack. He
probably will play but it could be a gamble.
Have to say though, the Catalan side are now in their sixth
season and whilst I do think the club are an asset to Super
League, on the field, where in the progress? Again look at the
player stats down the page and all but one of the positive stats
are non French players. Ok they have produced an excellent pack of
French forwards, but where are the backs? Whilst Thomas Bosc had a
brilliant season in 2008, I don't really think they've produced a
top draw back of any note so far. I mean France were beaten by
Wales for a place in this year's Four Nations! That is
embarrassing and head's should have rolled from that debacle.
Absolutely no excuse for it!
One final thing. If the RFL's kit directives are correct, the
Catalan side will be playing in their always fantastic
blood and gold away strip at Wigan on Friday. Those colours are the colours
Catalan flag and you can't bloody miss them flags if you go to
a Catalan game away let me tell you. They are great colours and
I've always thought that the Catalan club have had their strips
the wrong way round. Blood and Gold represents the region, hence
why our Catalan RLFans.com sister site is called
("sang et or" meaning blood and gold) so why not have that as
their home shirt? I think it's far better than the
white home strip they use. Anyway's that's neither here nor
there, just thought I'd make the point lol. Enjoy the game,
hopefully Wigan get a big win to set us off for a big month!