Welcome back to From The Terraces, the weekly column where I choose a hot topic within the rugby league community, and discuss my opinions. This week I look at Wigan Warriors, and discuss whether their current injury woes will turn into a full-blown crisis.
I don’t know what’s more guaranteed nowadays, a Wigan player getting injured, or a Warrington defeat. I kid, I kid. There’s obviously more defeats in the Wolves.
It seems that Wigan are going to be continuing their unlucky run of injuries from last season. It is no secret that they limped through the 2016 campaign, and still ended up as Super League champions. It was a real tough year for the Cherry and Whites, as they would lose big, first team players on the weekly, and when they would start to get one or two back, another one would fall.
They relied heavily on their great squad depth and it was tested a lot last season. Shaun Wane learned a great deal about his squad, and so did the fans. Wane has always been known for giving the academy players a chance. However, last season he was forced into it at times, maybe when young players were not quite ready to step-up.
But, it worked wonders for the whole squad. They went through some real dark times (losing 62-0 to Wakefield) all the way to the good times (winning the Grand Final).
Wigan are already six games into their 2017 campaign, and they currently have 13 first team players out injured. It’s a rather ridiculous amount, and they are all players who play a huge part in the team.
Here is the current injury list at Wigan Warriors (as of 23/03/17):
Lewis Tierney, Joe Burgess, Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart, Sam Tomkins, Jake Shorrocks, Connor Farrell, Liam Farrell, Micky McIlorum, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton, Jack Wells and Sean O’Loughlin.
So, is this going to turn into a real crisis for Wigan? Or will they get through it like last season?
As you can see, they have a full starting 13 out injured, it’s crazy. One thing that’s amazed me during the past 12 months, is the amount of flack Wigan and Shaun Wane has been receiving for ‘moaning’ about injuries too often. I mean, seriously?
There is no other side in Super League right now, that after six games, would be sat top of the league, undefeated as World Champions, with the amount of injuries that Wigan have already had in 2017.
You look at the current Warrington side, they’re missing a handful of first team players, and they’re sat bottom of the league win no wins from five games. Saints are missing key personnel, they sit ninth, with just two wins from five. Last season, Leeds lost three players from their treble winning side, and finished the season in the bottom four. You look at the current Castleford side, they’re flying. But if they were to lose just three players from their current started 13, say, Minikin, Gale and Hardaker; there is no way they would be the same side, and they wouldd start to struggle, quickly.
Simply put, this will not ruin Wigan’s season, there will be no crisis at the club. The squad depth they have there is unbelievable. They have the best academy in the league and Wane knows that he can rely on the young lads to come up and do a job. Just like we’ve seen this season, with the likes of Liam Marshall, Liam Forsyth and Tom Davies all making their debuts, and making a real impression early doors, it’s great to see.
Marshall came in against Leigh for the injured Oliver Gildart, he made a good start in a tough game. His next game was one of dreams. Against Leigh, both Joe Burgess and Lewis Tierney were injured, so there was added pressure on Marshall shoulders as Wigan faced Warrington away. He would go on to score four tries that night and make people forget about the injuries.
Don’t get me wrong, Wane would prefer to be choosing from a fully fit squad every week, there’s no question. But when Wigan do get a couple of injuries, or in their case 10 or so, it doesn’t affect them like it would any other side as they know that they’ve got such depth in each area on the pitch.
There’s always a sense of excitement when an academy players is making their debut. We, as fans, expect something great from them because we’ve seen them for the last couple years in the reserves. Fans from other clubs will always say that Wigan moan about injuries too much, but to be honest, I don’t think we mention it enough.
People who don’t support Wigan did not fully understand what they went through last year, and why winning the Grand Final, was one of, if not the best win, in the Super League era. They may have to do the same again this year, but as a Wigan fan, I’m excited, not worried.
This concludes the ninth edition of From The Terraces. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on the current injury woes at Wigan, in the comments below.