Ex-Wigan Warriors player Stephen Wild has planted his flag and believes that his former club have what it takes to win everything next season. Wild played for his boyhood club Wigan Warriors from 2001-2005, playing 100 games and scoring 30 tries, and he’s now revealed exclusively to Serious About Rugby League his thoughts on the current Wigan team and how far they can go following their Grand Final success.
Wild stated that “I think Matt Peet (Head coach) and Sean O’Loughlin have done a great job with regards to the values of the club, bringing the community back”.
Wigan have already signed Sam Walters and Sam Eseh Jr in pre-season and Wild said that “I think next season with the signings that they’ve brought in then you’d think they couldn’t get any better as a playing squad. They will be pretty hard to stop, and I think they will be favourites to win at least one trophy. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they go all the way and win two trophies.”
With this Wigan side getting better and better, we asked Wild how this Wigan side compares to his Wigan team from 20 years ago. He explained though: “it’s a totally different game now. It gets faster and faster every year and it’s hard to compare as it must seem so slow when we played it!”
He added: “In my time we still had some of the greats such as Andy Farrell, Mick Cassidy and Adrian Lam; we had that spine of quality and I think that Wigan over the years had lost that. But now with the players they’ve got, it looks like they’re getting that back and can keep it for the next 5-6 years”.
As the IMG grades have been announced last month Wild expressed his thoughts on what the future might hold for Rugby.
“There’s going to be some problems with the IMG grades and obviously it’s going to affect some clubs more than others. For example, it doesn’t matter where London Broncos finish next season, they won’t be in the Super League due to the IMG grades”.
“Overall, the sport has its struggles and I think that’s where we need to focus on and I hope these IMG grades will address these problems”, Wild concluded.
Participation and attendance have always been a problem for Rugby League, and Wild proposes a possible solution to increase participation in the “best sport in the world”.
Wild said that “I think for me it’s important getting the kids involved, getting them to play the game in and outside of school, being able to watch it on TV and going to watch games live.” He hopes that this will boost membership at amateur clubs such as Wigan St Patrick’s where he started his career.
Wild also talked about England and now that the international season is over, he believes it has been “hit and miss” and not a proper challenge for the English. He went further, stating: “Tonga didn’t turn up.I think the first game was close, but I don’t think England really got out of second gear.”
He surmised: “Tonga is a growing side and could be a top side in the next 4-5 years, but we do need to be challenged more as a country, it would be good to see a tour against Tonga, New Zealand and Australia a mixed tour to see where England are at.”