Pfft. Quiet week. Not much happening. No, seriously if I had a pound for every time I've been asked about the
Michael Maguire coaching situation during the course
of this week I'd be en route to the Bahamas right now let me tell
I'm not sure anyone knows what's really going on but personally
I just want it sorted. This lingering over a decision is
frustrating to say the least and is not helping the team. I think
we saw that big style against Catalan last week.
It might also explain a rough few weeks we've had, who knows,
but Wigan need to get their season back on track sooner rather
than later. Easter is on the horizon and this period will go a
long way to sorting the wheat from the chaff at the top of Super
First thing Wigan need to do is get back to basics defensively.
In our first five league games we were averaging just 12 points
conceded per match, an average that was way better than what we
were producing even last season. In our last three games however
we've conceded an average of 31 points per match and that average
is on a par with the worst defence in the league, who are
Now the attack on paper doesn't look too bad. 28 points last
week and 22 the week before are not bad returns but the reality is
we've scored 36 of those 50 points in the final 15 minutes of each
game. It show's our fitness is good I suppose but we've got to be
doing better than that.
Looking at the stats, if you combine the first ten
and last ten minutes of each game we've crossed the line 15 times.
Between 10 and 70 minutes we've crossed the line just 20 times.
Clearly that suggests something isn't quite right in the middle of the
game. We are missing something off the bench.
That something is the alternative hooker for me because you look at
the power options on the bench and I can't find too much fault.
Lee Mossop has been superb I think, Liam Farrell always gives his
all, Chris Tuson likewise and Jeff Lima, for his critics, has been
right up there for making metres in our team this year.
I'm not sure if its just us simply missing Mark Riddell or just
missing any hooking alternative off the bench (maybe it's a bit of
both) but last year Mike McIlorum was the perfect foil to Riddell.
Mike Mc likes to get his head down from dummy half and run
directly at defenders whereas Piggy wasn't really like that. He
would spot the runners and find them. It was perfect variety and
that is missing this year.
I'm not saying Mike Mc has done bad but I just think we get too
predictable playing the same hooker for 80 minutes, especially if
a plan B is needed. We seem to have got clamped down around the
play the ball area in recent games. I know Tommy Leuluai is
supposed to be the alternative but it really hasn't happened this
year with injuries to Paul Deacon and Brett Finch. I'm not sure I
like the idea of Tommy starting at Scrum Half then switching to
hooker anyway. I'd much prefer to see a hooker coming off the
bench. Still we are likely to see Tommy in at hooker at some point
on Friday with Deacon returning and Finch on the bench, so we'll
have to see how it pans out.
Speaking of Deacon, his return is
much needed and I hope he is going to last more than 15 minutes
before going off with a head injury. I've moaned about our poor
kicking for a few weeks now but the proof is in the pudding - we
dropped to rank last for attacking kicks per game in Super League
after the Catalan game.
Elsewhere it seems both Darrell Goulding and Stefan Marsh will
be dropped after the Catalan display with Joel Tomkins switching
back to centre and Josh Charnley coming back in on the right wing.
I'm pleased about that to be honest. Although Charnley was
punished under the high bomb against Warrington, I think he is a
bigger attacking threat than both Marsh and Goulding. Josh has
scored 10 tries in 12 Super League appearances to date, that's not
a bad return for a 19 year old.
For Rovers, well I think it fair
to say they have struggled at times in Michael Dobson's absence.
Although Blake Green has proven to be a useful signing with almost
a quarter of Rovers tries this season have seen him provide the
final pass or kick. Kris Welham is proving a big threat in the
centres as well. He is Super League's top try scorer having scored
9 of Rovers 39 tries this year.
But like I said earlier defence
is the key for Wigan. If we get back to basics in that department
we will win. Look at Rovers winning results in recent times -
38-28, 40-22, 34-22, 44-18, 28-26, 49-24, 20-16. Most of the wins
are offensive shoot outs, they very rarely win off the back of
good defence and don't seem to like slow games so it's up to us to
do what we've done in our last three visits to Hull KR and keep
them very quiet in attack.
I actually think that Friday is more about the performance than
the result. I think I'd be far happier with a good performance and
a defeat than a poor performance and a nicked win. I just want us
to get back into a good groove in both attack and defence ahead of
Good Friday. Let's hope that happens with a big victory!