Wigan Warriors unveiled a first for the sport on Sunday with a feature-length documentary on their World Club Challenge tour of New Zealand and Australia at an exclusive cinema screening with Shaun Wane sending a clear message that he has some unfinished business.
Players, staff and supporters all gathered at the Empire Cinema on Robin Park for a world exclusive of their trip around the globe. The documentary was produced by Sky Sports reporter Angela Powers and gave us all a first-hand look at behind the scenes of a remarkable journey, including the highs and lows for everyone involved.
Rugby League Express readers will be aware this writer was out in Sydney for the clash against the Sydney Roosters and it was good for me to see a different side of what I still describe as trip of a lifetime although it seems a lot longer than seven months ago.
The film, titled Warriors Down Under, lasted for over 80 minutes and captured every moment of an amazing trip that included a game against New Zealand Warriors in Hamilton before moving onto Sydney to face the Roosters in the World Club Challenge at the Allianz Stadium.
The screening ended on a very poignant moment with a dejected Shaun Wane addressing his players and insisting he would take his Wigan team back to Australia and this time perform the way he knows his team can.
Warriors Down Under will be shown this week on Sky Sports immediately after the play-off semi-finals. It will be after the watershed to be able to fit in the industrial language that slightly embarrassed the Warriors coach.
Wane said: "I have been quite strict with my two daughters and I have told them you don't need to swear to express yourself so I am quite embarrassed with what we have just seen.
"That game has tortured me every day since we played it and it has brought some of those memories back. I still honestly believe what I said at the end, I don't want to win a World Club Challenge over here I absolutely want to go back to Australia and do it again and this time win that game."
Highlights of the documentary include the story about former Wigan star Sam Tomkins getting pulled over by the police for speeding and later that same day getting a parking ticket. The intensity shown by Wane and his backroom staff is plain for everyone to see and make sure you catch his half-time talk when they were trailing in the ‘friendly' against New Zealand Warriors that just shows he hates to lose.
Many questioned the timing of this film and why it was shown seven months later, but speaking to captain Sean O'Loughlin afterwards he believes it has made them more focused ahead of their semi-final against Warrington on Friday because they know what is waiting for them in the future.
"That was the first time I have seen it and I thought it was really good. We were obviously there but it was good to see it from a different view. For where we are in the season now I thought it was a good time to show it. It is obviously disappointing to lose the game but with the Grand Final just around the corner it could spur us on.
"Watching that has really spurred us on and you actually want to go out and play now. With the semi-final on Friday and then hopefully the Grand Final this is perfect timing for us."
O'Loughlin was not part of the playing team that had to endure the half-time rant from Wane but he does remember it very vividly. "I do remember that one against New Zealand at half-time. He says it straight. If you are not playing well and not performing he will give it you straight between the eyes. He has both sides to him as well and you see that in the video. One minute he is giving it to the lads with both barrels but he also puts his arm around players and taking to them one and one so you see that side of him as well."
There is one moment in the film that shows how cruel sport can be and that was when Sam Powell had been informed that he was going to play against the Roosters after impressing in the game against the New Zealand Warriors, but just a day later he stood on a ball and damaged his ankle ligaments meaning he missed out on what would have been the biggest game of his career.
Overall it is a very well put together documentary and shows the fans of not only Wigan but the rest of Super League what preparation goes into a big game and what emotions are on show. Hopefully many supporters and other sports will watch this and maybe try and understand what it is like to be a professional rugby league player.
One fan who made the trip to Australia for the Word Club Challenge was Peter Elliott and he was at the screening, he said: "I really enjoyed. It is good to see things like that. As a fan, we come here week in week out and that is all you see, you don't see the build-up to the game and the team talks so it was great to see that.
"We all knew Shaun Wane was passionate but that team talk in New Zealand was something else. I wouldn't ever want to upset Shane Wane. It was a real eye opener of how passionate he really is."
Warriors Down Under will be shown this week on Sky Sports 1 at 10:15pm on both Thursday and Friday. The extended version will be released in various formats at a later date.