“Hated, adored and never ignored” according to some and the way 2019 went, it was almost impossible to ignore Wigan Warriors’ season.
They endured a miserable start, winning just one of their first six games and people spoke of relegation for the 2018 champions but a superb recovery eventually took them up to second place at the end of the regular season.
Their play-off run was rather one to forget though as they crashed out, surrendering their title in the process.
So, where did it all go wrong? Did they underachieve or overachieve? Will they bounce back immediately once again?! 2019 could have been better for the Warriors as we look back at their season.
Best Result: Wigan Warriors 42-0 Catalans Dragons
They achieved a few comprehensive results but arguably their best one was their 42-0 thumping over the Catalans Dragons back in March.
The first 20 minutes remained blank before Joe Burgess scored the first half’s only try, converted by Zak Hardaker, who also added a penalty, to send Wigan in 8-0 ahead.
A rather dull first half turned out to have disguised a euphoric second as Wigan ran riot.
Burgess completed a hat-trick of tries followed by efforts from George Williams, Oliver Gildart, Jarrod Sammut and Hardaker also touching down for good measure.
The latter added a further five goals to complete the scoring on a superb night for the Warriors.
The result arguably demonstrated what Wigan are truly capable of and why, no matter what, they should never be underestimated.
Worst Result: Wigan Warriors 6-14 Huddersfield Giants
A rather forgettable outing was their low scoring home defeat to the Huddersfield Giants.
Kruise Leeming scored early, turning out to be the only try in the entire first half, converted by Lee Gaskell.
The latter added a penalty goal to extend their lead before Wigan finally responded after 50 minutes through Morgan Escare, with Zak Hardaker slotting home a conversion.
The match in the balance but then with Taulima Tautai sin-binned for foul play for Wigan did then Joe Wardle crash over, with Gaskell converting.
Wigan did not have enough in them to mount any sort of fightback and before they knew it, they game was over.
Scoring only six points at home some would consider to be criminal but no disrespect to Huddersfield as the result also helped them open their 2019 account.
It was back to square one for Wigan, though they would recover, certainly a night they would not want to repeat anytime soon.
Main Man: Zak Hardaker
An infamous, laughable selection?! Regardless of his past, Hardaker stepped into the Wigan Warriors and after a very shaky start, has settled in fine and helped them to another strong season.
Personally, Hardaker scored 11 tries and provided 12 direct assists as well as managing 147 tackle busts, 25 attacking kicks and 3074 metres from 414 carries.
He has the ability to act as an extra’pivot’ something he managed during his spells at Leeds and Castleford and now doing the same with Wigan as their attack soon improved, climbing from the bottom four to 2nd place.
Hence his status as an international and why he still has plenty to offer the British game.
Predicted 3rd – Finished 2nd
No matter what, nowadays, Wigan are always a team expected to finish near that top as they have that aura about them.
They proved it once again as they faced a lot of criticism and stick early doors but somehow recovered and climbed their way up.
It may have gone pear-shaped in the play-offs but a great turn around regardless.
Despite having some injuries, they showed again how impressive their academy setup is, with several new faces coming into the team and quickly adapting.
That and of course having seasoned internationals guide them as well as do a job themselves is always going to make life difficult for their opposition.
With their recruitment going strong for next season, Wigan look good to return as contenders to reclaim their title and who knows, maybe more.