Warriors Host Fans Forum

Wigan Warriors fans turned out in their numbers last night with a 350-strong capacity crowd attending the Club’s second Fans Forum which was hosted in the South Stand Lounge at the JJB Stadium.

Chairman Ian Lenagan and Performance Director Joe Lydon answered a host of questions from concerned supporters following the team’s recent form. A wide number of issues were raised and it was an honest exchange of views. Also in attendance were Warriors new Chief Executive Mick Hogan and President Peter Higginbottom.

The Chairman highlighted seven key areas that need addressing in the short term to halt the current dip in form:

  • No pride in performance or Wigan shirt
  • Inconsistent effort and performances
  • No passion, drive or desire
  • Poor methods and systems
  • No commitment or fight
  • No leadership
  • Quiet dressing room
Ian Lenagan told the forum,

"This year we know the team is not performing and we’re not making excuses for that. We’re still nowhere near Leeds or Saints and that’s what we aim for. We have got the talent, but we’re still losing games that we should win.

"The players voluntarily met last Saturday morning at 8.30am for a round robin conversation about what is the matter. Actually Trent Barrett stood up and said this is the same crowd of fans who clapped us off two years ago when we lost because they knew we were trying. We all know that you don’t get Wigan fans booing a team for losing, you get Wigan fans booing when they don’t try hard enough and the players were shocked after the game. The players did say it. They admitted that (the chant of) ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ probably did help. They said there is a player attitude problem and I respect them enormously for that.

"Joe and I have been looking carefully at what is going on while at the same time looking at the long term (plans). We have an exceedingly young team who have not got the experience of playing with experienced, older players. Wigan has the quietest dressing room that Joe Lydon has ever seen in his life. I don’t have the experience that Joe has, but when I go in I’m staggered they are sat there like gentle people. I can’t change their characters… but you have to plan the blend of the squad you put together and at the moment we lack leadership."

The Chairman also talked about the longer term aims of the Performance Department,

"We’re desperately low on resources. Wigan as a top team are the only one in the RFL without a Player Performance Manager. Furthermore, Saints and Leeds have three conditioners each and we have one in Mike Forshaw, who works 70 hours a week covering three teams.

"This is a very young side and the plan is to sign players on sensible three-year contracts, while allowing certain players to leave. Our recruitment plans include a prop, preferably an enforcer, and a speedy winger, although we are still restricted by the salary cap situation that we inherited."

He was also questioned about the possibility of blooding more young talent to get through the short-term problems,

"Sam Tomkins is a great player for the future, but do you want us to kill him?" he told the Forum. "He’s not physically ready yet for Super League. In two years, yes he’ll be top quality, and next season we’ll start to blood him. We recognise talent when we see it, but we won’t kill them."

Talking about the issue of leadership and the signing of Australian Hooker Mark Riddell, Lenagan said,

"Mark Riddell is a quality playmaker. I’ve met his partner and I’ve met Mark. I’ve seen him play about 10 times and he’s a great guy. He e-mailed me the other day and volunteered to help coach the Academy next year; he’s just the type of person we need in the team to take us around the park and he’ll be great to have him in the camp."

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