Wigan Warriors' expectations, Adrian Lam's contract, season ticket sales & more

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josie andrews
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Wigan Warriors' expectations, Adrian Lam's contract, season ticket sales & more

Post by josie andrews » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:38 am

Ian Lenagan opens up about a wide range of issues ahead of the start of the new Super League campaign

Wigan’s prospects in 2020

The addition of marquee men George Burgess and Jackson Hastings has been one of the big reasons why they believe they can go one better than last season, when they finished second but failed to reach the Grand FInal.

“There’s a buzz, but we’re not over-confident,” said Lenagan. “It doesn’t mean to say we’re going to win everything because St Helens are looking pretty good.

“But we’re excited about the new season.

“How do we rate our chances? We thought we over-performed at the end of last year and we were happy to get to number two.

“The goals are to get to finals and win. I’d personally like to win the Challenge Cup. The league leaders wouldn’t be bad – it’s a consistent way of recognising the best team.”

Hastings’ NRL release clause

The reigning Steve Prescott Man of Steel has signed for two years with Wigan but has a get-out clause to return to the NRL if he wishes at the end of 2020.

Is Lenagan concerned speculation over his future will be a backdrop to this campaign?

“His release clause is the end of the season, and if there’s so much speculation it’ll be because he’s doing so well for Wigan – and I’d love that to be the case,” he said.

“The initial views are that he enjoys it, the facilities are better than what he’s had before and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he stays the two years.

You can never depend on it, but when you’ve got Harry Smith in the wings, you’re not that worried about it.”

Big middles

The arrival of Burgess and Mitch Clark continues a trend of signing and developing bigger props.

Last year, Joe Bullock and Ethan Havard – both towering front-rowers – made their debuts.

“There’s no doubt Wigan have a strategy to have bigger middles – we said as much after the Sydney Roosters turned us over (in 2014),” said Lenagan

George Burgess at 27 with the body he has got, he’s had a very hard pre-season and he’s going to be an asset for us.”

Is 29-rounds too long?

The new season again kicks-off in January to accommodate the inflated regular season, before a top-five play-offs. Each of the 12 clubs face each other twice and also play seven ‘loop’ games, which are based on the previous year’s finishing position.

“We have a view that we probably have to stay where we are unless something radically changes, like if we went 14 teams for example,” said Lenagan.

“But financially and practically can’t see how we can’t stay as we are (without losing revenue).”

Season ticket sales

Wigan hope to sell as many season-tickets but the revenue raised will drop, given the price-cuts this year to try and attract – and retain – fans aged 18-21. The age for free child season tickets was also raised from four to seven.

On the positive side, he says merchandise sales have increased by 15 per cent.

“We will almost certainly end up on the same number of season-ticket holders,” he said.

“The balance of revenue has changed, because we took action to try and keep fans around 18-21 when a high proportion leave.

“A lot of people think that if you sign marquee players, season ticket sales go up – they don’t. No matter who you sign, people will spend what they can afford to spend... and no doubt Brexit and the economy has an impact.”

Lenagan says dropping attendances, with fewer younger fans watching live games, is an issue across all sports.

“The change in social behavior so 18-36 have so much more to do – not just watch rugby league – is a major change,” he said.

“Have you looked at Man United, or even Man City? The fill of the stadium is going down. We’re not competing with football, we’re competing with social opportunities people have – it’s part of the whole world of sport.”

Wigan will sell ‘pro rata’ season tickets throughout the year and Lenagan hopes an exciting season will attract fans to buy matchday tickets, which generate more income than season tickets, which are discounted.

Canberra’s interest in Wigan young-guns

The Raiders, who already have John Bateman, Ryan Sutton and now George Williams on their books, have admitted they’re tracking the development of Morgan Smithies and Ollie Partington.

But both signed new four-year deals last season.

“We quite like the model of signing for longer periods knowing if they go early we get a transfer fee,” said Lenagan, whose club netted six-figure fees to let Bateman and Williams leave a year early. “It’s worked well for us, and a number have come back.”

Adrian Lam’s contract

The coach had a rocky start to his first season following a run of poor results, a deepening injury crisis and the distraction of a points deduction, off-field trouble and Shaun Edwards’ U-turn.

But he turned around their fortunes as they climbed from 10th to finish second and – along the way – blood many homegrown players.

He signed a rolling contract, similar to the arrangement predecessor Shaun Wane had.

“If we both want it to continue it will,” said Lenagan. “We’re pleased with how he’s put together our second season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was here for a third or a fourth season. We’re certainly not discussing him going back.”

Lam has two assistants, John Winder and Matty Peet, while reserve coach Darrell Goulding is also involved with the first-team.

Lenagan expects talks with Winder, who is out of contract this year, to take place soon. Sean O’Loughlin and Thomas Leuluai both have options to move onto the club’s coaching staff when they retire from playing.

Edge Hall Road

Wigan’s decision to relocate their training base to Robin Park has left their Orrell site vacant.

The Warriors own the freehold and have “not yet” decided whether to sell for development – see full story here. https://www.wigantoday.net/news/could-b ... 1-10216454

https://www.wigantoday.net/sport/wigan- ... 1-10219804
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

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