A Step Too Far

Discuss all things Wigan Warriors. Comments and opinions on all aspects of the club's performance are welcome.
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EagleEyePie
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A Step Too Far

Post by EagleEyePie » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:54 am

I've read a lot of the reactions to the Salford defeat but I can honestly say I wasn't surprised by it. I've been waiting for our over-reliance on young forwards to catch up with us and I think in the last two games it finally has done.

For quite a while now we've been relying on our outside backs to do most of the hard work and make the most metres. It's worked in plenty of games but we've been fortunate to play a lot of teams who were out of form or just not particularly strong. Our excellent run of form probably created false expectations.

Smithies, Partington and Byrne are not at the stage in their careers where they could realistically be expected to lead a team into the Grand Final. However, over the last few months they've become key players in our pack. Most of the packs we've come up against have been, on paper at least, stronger than ours.

If you consider other young forwards we've produced over the years, most of them had a breakthrough season where they performed really well but faded late in the year. Bateman, Farrell, Joel Tomkins, Mossop etc, etc. It seems to happen to most. I think all 3 mentioned above have done well this year to maintain a good level of form. When it comes down to it though, there's a reason most forwards peak in their mid-to-late twenties.

You can point to us having plenty of senior players too but they just didn't perform well enough. Some have better excuses than others. Flower and O'Loughlin were both fighting a battle for fitness having spent several weeks out. I think both returned earlier than expected just so they could get games under their belts but neither looked fully fit.

Unfortunately Clubb, despite having a mini resurgence mid-season, just hasn't looked energetic enough. Navarrete was well out of form and the same goes for Greenwood. I've seen criticism of Lam for not picking Greenwood on Friday night but that's really clutching at straws. He's been poor since his return and didn't get selected because other players were playing well enough. If he was capable of playing down the middle it would help his cause but really there was nowhere for him to play. He's had a torrid time this year but hopefully next season will see the Greenwood was saw early on.

Our pack that already had question marks at the start of the season and had been depleted further was always going to struggle at some point. Salford have a decent pack of forwards that can match any side except, unfortunately, Saints.

I don't think we should be expecting to beat Salford just because "We're Wigan." It's arrogant and unrealistic. Should we have put up a better fight in a home semi-final? Of course. What I saw on Friday night though wasn't a team that wasn't trying but a team that looked tired. Some might see a list of excuses but for me it's just realism. We don't have a divine right to win every game and most people had identified our biggest weakness at the start of the year (our pack) and things didn't exactly get better throughout the season.

In my opinion Friday night (and the previous game against Saints) was a step too far for a team that had to rely too much on young forwards and eventually suffered for it.

Lam will cop some criticism but I don't think you can make many comparisons to Wane just yet. Wane had 6 years and some were without a trophy. Lam's had 1 year and we didn't win anything. I expected 2017 all over again before the season started but we avoided that. Lam faced a lot of adversity and has done better with a pack of youngsters and out of form senior players than i expected.

Next year will tell us more. Wane set a decent standard of a trophy every other year. That's a realistic expectation for a top side in modern times and that's what must happen in 2020.

CheshireWarrior
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by CheshireWarrior » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:55 am

I'm not going to go too in-depth as I have on previous posts, but I couldn't agree with you more! I find it truly astonishing how fans be so critical of Lam considering the culture and challenges he has faced (both on and off the park). I have said myself 2020 is the season to either be critical or full of praise for Lam!

My only concern which I think the majority of fans will agree and some have stated on here is that certain players have been chosen as a result of status or experience as opposed to either fitness or skill level. My main hope for Lam is that he chooses a 17 man squad each week which comprises of players who are consistent and have earned the right!

Barney841
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by Barney841 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:48 pm

I wasn’t surprised myself. Even when we were winning I always thought it would come crashing down eventually as we weren’t playing out of this world. The teams we played against didn’t have the best of days either.
If it wasn’t for our defence, I think we would of lost a couple more.

DaveO
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by DaveO » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:57 pm

The problem is we have not won one single big game all year.

Lost the WCC, knocked out of the cup by Wire, lost again to them at magic. Lost at the Nou Camp, lost four times to Saints and lost both playoff semi finals.

That record can’t be blamed on running out of steam at the end of the season as most of it was throughout the season.

Against our big rivals and the teams with or about to have silverware we have failed. The reason we finished second is we beat the weaker teams but when it mattered, throughout the season we came off send best.

As to not expecting to beat Salford because we are Wigan we should be expecting to beat them because they are a bargain basement side run on a comparative shoestring. Saints will be expecting to win next week simply because they have better players not because they are Saints.

They probably will win because not only do they have better players they have a better coach and will take to the field as a team not 13 individuals. Unlike Wigan. Our loss to Salford was down to Watson getting more out of his team made of such stars as Dudson than Lam could get out of our team.

And that is the story of our season. On paper there is a absolutely no reason why Wigan should not have been winning more of those games I mention but in every one we were way off the pace tactically. That is the coach’s fault as much as the players.

The only excuse Lam has got is some players have gone on too long but then he didn’t need to automatically play Lockers when the side was going well without him and playing Powell with a knackered wrist was idiotic.

Lam has been out coached on a regular basis this season. Even at London not just against Holbrook, Price and Watson.

Wiganer Ted
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by Wiganer Ted » Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:10 pm

Well said DaveO.

We have problems with the squad but we also have Lam is proving to be real problem with his squad selection.

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EagleEyePie
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by EagleEyePie » Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:48 pm

DaveO wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:57 pm
The problem is we have not won one single big game all year.

Lost the WCC, knocked out of the cup by Wire, lost again to them at magic. Lost at the Nou Camp, lost four times to Saints and lost both playoff semi finals.

That record can’t be blamed on running out of steam at the end of the season as most of it was throughout the season.

Against our big rivals and the teams with or about to have silverware we have failed. The reason we finished second is we beat the weaker teams but when it mattered, throughout the season we came off send best.

As to not expecting to beat Salford because we are Wigan we should be expecting to beat them because they are a bargain basement side run on a comparative shoestring. Saints will be expecting to win next week simply because they have better players not because they are Saints.

They probably will win because not only do they have better players they have a better coach and will take to the field as a team not 13 individuals. Unlike Wigan. Our loss to Salford was down to Watson getting more out of his team made of such stars as Dudson than Lam could get out of our team.

And that is the story of our season. On paper there is a absolutely no reason why Wigan should not have been winning more of those games I mention but in every one we were way off the pace tactically. That is the coach’s fault as much as the players.

The only excuse Lam has got is some players have gone on too long but then he didn’t need to automatically play Lockers when the side was going well without him and playing Powell with a knackered wrist was idiotic.

Lam has been out coached on a regular basis this season. Even at London not just against Holbrook, Price and Watson.
We lost the WCC against the first team ever to go back-to-back in the NRL. Aside from a terrible start we put up a good fight too. If you expected Wigan to beat Salford because they are a 'bargain basement side' then you shouldn't have expected Wigan to win the WCC because compared to Sydney Roosters we are a bargain basement side.

It wasn't a great season by any means but the teams we've been able to field throughout most of the year have been fairly weak even for Super League. There was a weakness present at the start of the season that was obvious for everyone to see - even Lam said so. Since then the pack had more and more issues and you can't get anywhere in this sport with a weak pack.

As for only beating the weaker teams, we beat every side other than Saints. When it comes to 'winning the games that mattered', what does that even mean? There was a point where just to get into the playoffs every game mattered. If you just mean the games that lead to silverware then the only team to do that so far this year is Warrington. Saints will presumably be the other.

Salford may be run on a shoestring, but the team they have has proven to be better than its cost. It's also better than the team Wigan could field. They had better props at their disposal, better halves and probably a better back row too. Teams have raided Salford for next year because that team of 'misfits' as some have labelled them is actually a lot better than people have given them credit for.

There's no way that Wigan fielding the likes of Smithies, Partington and Byrne on a regular basis should be beating any Super League side in the top 5. We shouldn't have beaten Wire with the like of Hill, Cooper, Philbin, Clark because on paper their pack is far superior. Neither should we have beaten the likes of Cas with Watts, Millington, Sene-Lefao etc because on paper their pack is far superior. The same goes for Hull FC and Catalans.

As for the team selection against Salford, do you really think those decisions made a significant difference? Who would he have picked instead of Lockers? Smithies was still in the side and also got outmuscled by the Salford pack. O'Loughlin had to be in the side somewhere because he was better than the other options.

And what was the alternative to playing Powell? Leuluai could play hooker but Sammut is awful defensively, Shorrocks offers very little, Smith and Bourouh haven't been given enough chances and French ended up in the halves when Leuluai got injured and could only threaten with the occasional off-the-cuff decision but was pretty woeful at actually playing as a half. We looked better when O'Loughlin went there.

I don't know whether Lam is good enough but I think there were enough issues this year to compare it to 2017, when even our most successful coach of the modern era struggled.

DaveO
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by DaveO » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:01 pm

What don't you understand about the fact we didn't win ONE big game?

Are you seriously suggesting beating Wire after they had won the CC and being knocked out of the CC by Wire means its OK because we beat them eventually?

We lost FOUR times to Saints and then the excuse was we only need to be beat them at the end of the season. When we didn't do that we were too tired. :roll:

I can't even believe anyone is defending Lam's selection of Powell by saying who was the alternative. Anyone who was fit. How about Tommy at 9 and Summat at 7? Powell was injured earlier in the season was he not and we didn't play him then. Why do so in the most intense games of the season?

Salford could field a better team than us? Their team included as props Dudson, Burke and Mossop. Three Wigan rejects and you are saying they are better than ours? L Tomkins is another Wigan reject that was in their team.

We had both our senior props out there and Lam's preferred back row (leaving Greenwood out) . It's not a case of who else to pick (other than for the injured Powell) but making those he did pick, most of whom were first choice players week in week out, play as a team. Which he didn't.

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EagleEyePie
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by EagleEyePie » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:57 pm

DaveO wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:01 pm
What don't you understand about the fact we didn't win ONE big game?

Are you seriously suggesting beating Wire after they had won the CC and being knocked out of the CC by Wire means its OK because we beat them eventually?

We lost FOUR times to Saints and then the excuse was we only need to be beat them at the end of the season. When we didn't do that we were too tired. :roll:

I can't even believe anyone is defending Lam's selection of Powell by saying who was the alternative. Anyone who was fit. How about Tommy at 9 and Summat at 7? Powell was injured earlier in the season was he not and we didn't play him then. Why do so in the most intense games of the season?

Salford could field a better team than us? Their team included as props Dudson, Burke and Mossop. Three Wigan rejects and you are saying they are better than ours? L Tomkins is another Wigan reject that was in their team.

We had both our senior props out there and Lam's preferred back row (leaving Greenwood out) . It's not a case of who else to pick (other than for the injured Powell) but making those he did pick, most of whom were first choice players week in week out, play as a team. Which he didn't.
Every game became important once we were fighting to get into the playoffs and they won them. We lost 4 times against Saints because they are that much better than us. They have a much better team than we do and a much better team than anyone else in Super League. It's why they are where they are.

Tommy at 9 is all well and good but as said before, Sammut's defence is awful! Why would anyone put him in a must win playoff game, especially when he'd be seriously lacking match fitness too? It's also not like we lost because Powell played. We were battered all over the park. A fully fit Powell isn't making a difference there.

And what don't you understand about the fact that players can improve? Just because Dudson, Burke and Mossop used to play for us doesn't mean they can't be better than what we have now? The disdain with which you call them 'Wigan rejects' is just arrogant nonsense. Leaving Wigan doesn't make someone a bad player. They left earlier in their careers because they weren't good enough at that time. It doesn't mean they can't improve as players. It happens with props at all clubs across the league. They aren't quite good enough in their early 20's so leave and then reach their potential in their late 20's and early 30's.

What Salford did have is a quality fullback, two quality wingers (arguably better than both of ours), a decent centre in Bibby who is better than Hankinson, the best player in Super League by far in Hastings, and experienced NRL half in Lolohea (who finally found some form) - which certainly beats Williams and French in the halves, the best back row in Super League in Josh Jones, George Griffin who is a better back row than Isa, one of the best hookers in Super League in Joey Lussick, and 3 of their props - Mossop, Dudson and Walker are better than any of ours.

Just because we're Wigan doesn't mean we automatically have a better team than everyone else. It was clear we were too weak, clear we were relying too much on O'Loughlin, Clubb and Flower staying fit and in form and none of them did. You cannot be a strong side without a strong pack and we did not have a strong pack at any point this season. We did have some remarkable young forwards who played above expectations though.

pedro
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Re: A Step Too Far

Post by pedro » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:42 am

EagleEyePie wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:48 pm
DaveO wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:57 pm
The problem is we have not won one single big game all year.

Lost the WCC, knocked out of the cup by Wire, lost again to them at magic. Lost at the Nou Camp, lost four times to Saints and lost both playoff semi finals.

That record can’t be blamed on running out of steam at the end of the season as most of it was throughout the season.

Against our big rivals and the teams with or about to have silverware we have failed. The reason we finished second is we beat the weaker teams but when it mattered, throughout the season we came off send best.

As to not expecting to beat Salford because we are Wigan we should be expecting to beat them because they are a bargain basement side run on a comparative shoestring. Saints will be expecting to win next week simply because they have better players not because they are Saints.

They probably will win because not only do they have better players they have a better coach and will take to the field as a team not 13 individuals. Unlike Wigan. Our loss to Salford was down to Watson getting more out of his team made of such stars as Dudson than Lam could get out of our team.

And that is the story of our season. On paper there is a absolutely no reason why Wigan should not have been winning more of those games I mention but in every one we were way off the pace tactically. That is the coach’s fault as much as the players.

The only excuse Lam has got is some players have gone on too long but then he didn’t need to automatically play Lockers when the side was going well without him and playing Powell with a knackered wrist was idiotic.

Lam has been out coached on a regular basis this season. Even at London not just against Holbrook, Price and Watson.
We lost the WCC against the first team ever to go back-to-back in the NRL. Aside from a terrible start we put up a good fight too. If you expected Wigan to beat Salford because they are a 'bargain basement side' then you shouldn't have expected Wigan to win the WCC because compared to Sydney Roosters we are a bargain basement side.

It wasn't a great season by any means but the teams we've been able to field throughout most of the year have been fairly weak even for Super League. There was a weakness present at the start of the season that was obvious for everyone to see - even Lam said so. Since then the pack had more and more issues and you can't get anywhere in this sport with a weak pack.

As for only beating the weaker teams, we beat every side other than Saints. When it comes to 'winning the games that mattered', what does that even mean? There was a point where just to get into the playoffs every game mattered. If you just mean the games that lead to silverware then the only team to do that so far this year is Warrington. Saints will presumably be the other.

Salford may be run on a shoestring, but the team they have has proven to be better than its cost. It's also better than the team Wigan could field. They had better props at their disposal, better halves and probably a better back row too. Teams have raided Salford for next year because that team of 'misfits' as some have labelled them is actually a lot better than people have given them credit for.

There's no way that Wigan fielding the likes of Smithies, Partington and Byrne on a regular basis should be beating any Super League side in the top 5. We shouldn't have beaten Wire with the like of Hill, Cooper, Philbin, Clark because on paper their pack is far superior. Neither should we have beaten the likes of Cas with Watts, Millington, Sene-Lefao etc because on paper their pack is far superior. The same goes for Hull FC and Catalans.

As for the team selection against Salford, do you really think those decisions made a significant difference? Who would he have picked instead of Lockers? Smithies was still in the side and also got outmuscled by the Salford pack. O'Loughlin had to be in the side somewhere because he was better than the other options.

And what was the alternative to playing Powell? Leuluai could play hooker but Sammut is awful defensively, Shorrocks offers very little, Smith and Bourouh haven't been given enough chances and French ended up in the halves when Leuluai got injured and could only threaten with the occasional off-the-cuff decision but was pretty woeful at actually playing as a half. We looked better when O'Loughlin went there.

I don't know whether Lam is good enough but I think there were enough issues this year to compare it to 2017, when even our most successful coach of the modern era struggled.
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