A Disappointing End
Well it's hard to put into words how we're feeling right now, gutted just doesn't come close. To find out before the game that Sam wasn't playing and with Micky obviously out too we knew we would have to do it the hard way. Our performance in the first half on Friday was disappointing but to be honest I thought we'd just done enough in that second half to claw it back but it wasn't to be in the end.
All we can do now is try and learn from the experience and use it as motivation for next year. People have been asking me if the week off a club gets if they win in week one is beneficial or not. It's hard to say really as it's a bit of a lottery, we've experienced both sides of it and I suppose it does help if you've got some bruised bodies that could do with a rest but at the same time Rugby League is all about momentum and if you've got that at the right time then it's probably better to keep playing.
If we were to do it all again I wouldn't change anything though, we worked all season to finish top and rightly won the league leaders shield. Ask any other team I'm sure they will have wanted to finish top! The play offs is a totally different competition and unfortunately we didn't get it right this time round.
The weekend was a real emotional rollercoaster for the group, we've had time to sit back and reflect on the season and to say goodbye to some great players and even greater friends. Tommy and George have both been here a few years now and have both been a huge influence and help to me in their time at Wigan. Finchy and Jeff have also been great servants for the past two seasons whilst Stu is a top bloke and also gave his all for the club. We wish them all the very best for the future.
Well done to all the award winners on Monday night, especially Sam who has had the Man of Steel award coming for a couple of years now and rightly gained the accolade. He had some tough competition as Robes (James Roby) and Bennie (Ben Westwood) have had excellent seasons! Josh was given the award for top try scorer and has been superb for us all season whilst we also won the Club of the Year award which I also think is well deserved for everyone here at the club.
A few of the lads, myself included have been called up to the England squad for the series against Wales and France. I'm really looking forward to it as it will be good preparation for the 2013 RL World Cup. It's also a huge honour to play for my country and I can't wait for that to start now.
Many thanks to everyone who has given in any way, whether it be time or money (or both) to help with my testimonial year. Your generosity has helped three very worthy charities in the Wigan Youth Zone, Emma Hoolin Appeal and the Alzheimer's Society . I'm planning one last event on 30th November which will be a dinner with guests from the team of 1992 who won six trophies that year so keep an eye out on the club website and my testimonial site (www.sol13.co.uk)
Finally, I'd just like to say a quick thank you to Tim Fisher for helping me with my blogging exploits throughout the year.
Signing off for this season,
It's a good feeling knowing that we've got a weekend off coming up after bagging the win against Catalan. We didn't really talk too much about our record in week one over the last few years but Waney really emphasised how importantly he wanted us to take the game and to treat it as a knock out game. We did exactly that and put in a very solid performance on Friday night.
Obviously the week before we went down to Saints, it was a very frustrating evening but you can't fault the effort of the boys. The main talking point was around Micky and his sending off, at the time I thought it was harsh but watching it back I can see why the ref has made that decision. That said, sorry but you'll never be able to convince me that it warranted a three game ban though, especially when it means a player who has given his all this year has to potentially miss out on a Grand Final. The lads are gutted for Micky and as captain I just want to thank him for the superb season he has had and for all the effort he has put in.
This time next week we will know who we are playing having had the chance to pick who we play in week three using Club Call. The players don't really get too involved with this kind of thing, we just leave it to the coaching staff really. Each time it's happened, so far the top team have picked the team that's finished lowest in the league and I think we'll just do the same really. Personally, I don't think it gives us an advantage, whoever you pick it gives them extra motivation and whoever you don't pick may think that you are worried about playing them.
Last week we managed to secure Blake Green for the 2013 season and we're delighted to have him on board. Whenever we play Hull KR we do plenty of homework on him because we know how skilful he is and I think he fits the Waney halfback mould really well.
For those of you who haven't already seen this the RFL have put together a great advertising campaign for the play offs, they have a website dedicated to it and you can view the video here: www.extraordinaryrugby.com
Hopefully most of you will have got a leaflet or have seen the posters at the game on Friday about the open week at Central Park. The Warriors are now based up at Central Park (use to be Pembec High School) and work alongside a company called Central Training to offer loads of different courses. Some of the facilities like the new Gym, 3G pitch, hair salon and sports hall are also available to the public. The Open Week is the first week in October, keep an eye out for more details.
We recently won the award for being the best supported team in the league for the third year in a row, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who has come down to support us this year. It genuinely means a lot to us and we're incredibly lucky to have such a great set of fans who support us home and away throughout the season.
The Lockers Awards
Well Sunday was a bit of a crazy one wasn't it just? It was such a strange game as Hull KR got off to a flying start but we didn't panic once, even at 26-0 we just grouped together and told each other not to panic. We knew we had the points in us and the time on the clock so we just had to make sure when we got the ball in hand that we made the most of it. To come back and win it was amazing and showed the character and determination in the ranks.
It's great to get the League Leaders shield in the bag, it's often overlooked in Super League now but it's the toughest of the three trophies to win and we are delighted to have finished top again for the second time in three years. We all know how the rest of the season panned out in 2010 and the boys are determined to do it all again this time round.
We're right at the end of the regular season now so I thought I'd give you my thoughts on how it's gone and who I think should win a few awards. Young player of the year is always a difficult one to call and to win but I'd say Jack Hughes has been our best young player of 2012, he's really made the most of the chances that have come his way and is now competing for a place in the 17 every week. I'd say you couldn't look much further than Jack for the overall Super League award too.
As for my player of the season I'd say it's between Benny Westwood, Brett Hodgson and Jamie Peacock, all three have had very good seasons. Whilst for us I'd say Sam has been immense, it's hard not to take him for granted at times. Also Micky Mac has been superb too, consistently great up the middle and rock solid in defence. Both Sam and Micky should be in the running for Man of Steel in a few weeks time.
The best game of the season for us has to be the win at Leeds. Some will say Leeds didn't turn up that night but I thought the way we played made them make lots of uncharacteristic errors. We were good that night, very good! Game of the season overall probably has to be the Saints v Catalan game where Catalan came back and won it right in the last second.
Coach of the season would for me go to Waney, he's had a mammoth task continuing what Madge started here but he's done magnificently well in leading us to the top of the table. His running of the team and club has been spot on week in week out. Tony Smith has obviously done really well at Wire too winning the Challenge Cup and pushing us all the way for the League Leaders shield.
Try of the season for Super League would have to be the Daryl Millard effort for Catalan against Saints, that was an amazing try in the circumstances. For us I'd struggle to pick one but it would probably be one of Sam's.
The worst haircut award has to go to Josh Charnley (pre-skinhead). I don't have one for favourite prank really, although we do have a forfeit at the club that if you miss a massage session or have a kit infringement or something along those lines you have to eat a spoonful of cinnamon. It's hilarious and never gets old! It's normally the younger lads who suffer with Iain Thornley and Liam Faz both undertaking the challenge this past week.
Right I think I've said enough for one week, remember it's the Saints game on Friday so be sure to come ready to give us some great support. Please also give generously to Joining Jack on Friday, I know some guys from Central Park will be down there as it opens to the public soon. They'll have a competition and there will be loads of other stuff going on too so get down there early.
Welcome Back Pat
Welcome back Paddy Richards!! By the sound you guys made in the warm up when they read his name out I think you were as happy as the rest of us to see Paddy back out there on the field on Monday night. He showed us exactly what we'd been missing out on too, that was some performance considering he'd missed the last three months. You'd have excused him for looking a little off the pace but he looked like he'd never been away making several clean breaks, doing the hard slogs getting the ball clear from our line whilst also helping himself to a few tries and several goals.
Stu Fielden and Ben Flower had run outs in the academy game against Salford and Tommy isn't too far away now as well. Matty Smith has come in and done a great job, trust me it ain't easy trying to slot in at half back during the middle of a season! Tommy is a huge player for us, he is integral to what we are all about and how we operate. To have some options in the halves and at hooker will be great for the team during these next few weeks. The players are glad to see Tommy on the mend too and are willing him on, after spending so long at the Wigan club we want to send him home with a Grand Final winner's medal.
The win against Salford wasn't perfect and we have things to be working on but we have come away from it happy with our defence. We pride ourselves on our defence and we know that if we are on our game defensively then our attack can win us games. Against Warrington our defence was poor and lacked intensity, credit to them though as they ran hard and tackled hard whilst completing their sets well. That said we're already looking forward to playing them again as the boys know we can play a lot better than that!
I was down at Central Park recently taking a look at the exciting things happening there, the site (formerly PEMBEC) is ran by the club alongside Central Training. Over 300 students are already on the site which offers a range of Vocational courses including ones in Construction, Hair and Beauty, Catering and Hospitality, Business Admin and Sport plus loads more. The facilities are being transformed too with a new gym, sports hall and 4G pitch which will soon be open to the public. It looks brilliant and is going to be huge for the town, make sure you stay up to date with latest news by following Central Park on twitter ( @centralparkwig ) or on facebook by searching for Central Park Wigan.
Last week Bradley Wiggins came down to training, it was great of him to come in with Rads and the lads were buzzing to have him around. We spent quite a bit of time talking with him and his son seemed to be having the time of his life too! Waney hasn't allowed any extra time off this week, it's a normal schedule and we plan to use the free weekend to do some extra conditioning work with Mark Bitcon both on the field and in the gym to help keep us fresh ahead of the business end of the season. We're really focussed on the Hull KR game now and trying to secure top spot and the league leader's shield.
Finally a huge thanks to everyone who came down to the Golf Day last week, it was a great day and thankfully we got a break in the weather for it too. I think Deacs ran out winner and is a real shark on those greens let me tell you. However the highlight of the day has to be Waney snapping Sam's driver, I've not laughed like that in some time!
It's been a great time for us Warriors lately, well one in particular! Many congratulations to Warriors season ticket holder Bradley Wiggins! I met Bradley at the Sports Personality of the Year last December. We bumped into each other and he told me how he was a big rugby fan and his kids were too. What a truly amazing achievement to be the first British man to ever win the Tour De France. To then back it up at the Olympics too is phenomenal. On behalf of all the lads, well done mate!!
I've been glued to the TV watching the Olympics, team GB have been doing us all proud. I have literally watched any event with a GB athlete in and cheered them on all the way. I've really enjoyed the judo and that beach volleyball ain't bad either if you get me gents!
It was great to get a good win on Friday night then put our feet up ahead of the rest of the fixtures. Obviously we've got 3 days on Wire with them only playing the Monday night game and we need to try and make sure we use that to our advantage. I hear we've still got a handful of tickets available for Saturday so make sure you grab them whilst you can and really get that away end bouncing! A win at the Halliwell Jones will put us in a great position for the league leaders shield and ahead of the play offs.
Sammy Powell made his debut on Friday and I have to say I think he went really well out there. He's a talented lad and has been around the first team for a couple of years now, injury hasn't helped him this year but he's done really well to stay in the mix and deserved his chance. I think he could be playing in the halves for us for some time. Iain Thornley's done very well of late for us too, he's a big unit and very strong and is gonna take some shifting from the team playing like he is doing.
Thanks to everyone who turned up at the Bowling day last weekend at Garswood, it was brilliant and I really enjoyed as did the rest of the lads who came down. Next Tuesday(14th) we're having a golf day at Houghwood Golf Course, for all the details just jump on www.sol13.co.uk
Righto I'm gonna sign off there and put my feet up to watch Saints v Wire.
A Bitter Pill To Swallow
Well, not quite sure what to say after Saturday if I'm being honest. We pride ourselves on great defence and unfortunately we put in a below par performance on Saturday and it's a very hard pill to swallow right now.
The game was as tough as we expected, I don't think we underestimated Leeds at all. They are the current champions and you'd be foolish to ever think you could just turn up and beat a team like them. We gave them a 16 point start after some very uncharacteristic errors and poor decisions on our part. It was always going to be difficult to win from there but I always felt we could do it. As a team we felt we were capable of doing it but unfortunately we came up short. Fair play to Leeds though, they started the game like a house on fire and put in a great performance over the 80 minutes. The best team won and all the best to them in the final.
Waney is hurting after the loss, as we all are. He knows the history of this club and our love affair with the Challenge Cup, obviously Waney himself won it whilst wearing the colours. After the game we spoke about how we've got to learn from this and use it as a catalyst for the rest of the season. That is now the aim, we can't go around kicking stones and feeling sorry for ourselves we've got to address the situation and start putting it right starting with London on Saturday.
Looking at the league I still believe and know that we can finish top and win that Grand Final. We've had a good season up to now and with a few players coming back in to the frame like Tommy and Paddy and hopefully Stu Fielden (who will be like a new signing!) we can build up a real head of steam for the play offs. Speaking of Stu, hopefully he will be back training with us soon. We're all hoping he will get out on the field this year as he's worked so hard on his recovery and is a top bloke and a world class forward too.
Right we've got another event coming up soon which The Riversiders are sorting out, it's a bowling day at Garswood Hall Bowling Club (Nicol Road, Bryn) and it takes place on Saturday 28th July starting at 2.30pm. It's just a fiver to join in and play pairs with a Warriors player (past, present or future). I'm also reliably informed that there will also be tombola stalls, food and a raffle on the day. Entrance for spectators is by a donation on entering the site. To book on this please just call 07798 900913