Long Read Interview: Matt Peet

It’s been a busy week for Wigan Warriors. The ‘Battle of the Borough’ saw the Cherry and Whites crowned League Leaders Shield winners this season, but can they turn that into a Grand Final win? We sat down with Warriors Head Coach Matt Peet to chew the fat. 

Speaking on the League Leaders Shield triumph, Peet highlighted his pride and the recognition it gives everyone at the club. “Very proud,” he said. “I think it’s great recognition for everyone at the club to end up the most consistent team in the competition, although by a fine margin. “I think it’s a great reflection of everybody, our academy players, the physio department, obviously our strength and conditioning department who have all played a part in getting the lads consistently playing well.”

However, he was quick to highlight the club are moving on quickly from this success, saying: “I think it’s a good bit of recognition but we move on quickly now. That was enjoyable for basically the Friday night, that was it. I think the most important thing about finishing top is you get the week off, you get the home semi-final so they were big incentives for us and we worked hard to get it.”

He also added that despite coming into the play-offs top of the tree, Wigan aren’t favourites to win the Grand Final. “No. I think we just have to aspire to get our best two performances this season in our next two games. If we do that I’ll be confident.”

As Peet mentioned, the Warriors now have a week off before their home semi-final, and he explained it’s still an opportunity for his players to improve: “We’ve got to work hard this week and re-energise the players, reflect on what we’re doing well and also discuss some things we can do better and get some more training through that.”

Wigan were in the same position last year. They finished second in the table last season and again had a week off prior to their home semi-final; which ultimately saw them come unstuck against Leeds Rhinos. On this defeat last year and what they have learned, he said: “It’s difficult because there’s things that we feel like we’ve learnt from last year, whether it pays off or not is yet to be seen. So we’ll certainly be trying to do things a bit better than we did last year.”

Last weekend saw the announcement of the Super League Dream Team, which included three Wigan players. Peet explained this was again a piece of recognition for the Warriors year, saying:

“Yeah it’s outstanding recognition and all three players deserve it. I think there’s a lot of competition in all the players in the Dream Team this year and I think we could have had a couple of other players as well, so it’s very tight but I think every player in there completely deserves it. We’re very proud of our three, particularly Jake Wardle, being his first year at the club and his first year in the Dream Team.”

Jake Wardle arrived at the DW Stadium this season and has become an integral part of the club’s back line. Speaking on how Wardle has settled in at Wigan, Peet said: “He’s settled in really well from moment one really. Very, very honest, open lad, worked very hard in pre-season. I think the shape he got himself in has contributed to him having a really strong season and we’re very proud of him. We knew we were getting a class player but we’ve also got a class person as well.”

Another Warrior, Bevan French, was also included in the Dream Team. This season, French has shifted across into the halves, and Peet spoke on this transition: “He’s done it really, really well,” said Peet, “I think he’s having a massive impact on the game, probably more impact on the whole team than just himself now. He’s keeping games going with his game management and he’s defending really well, so I think it’s a show of what a well-rounded player he is.”

Peet also said French would be carrying on in the halves next season: “We won’t be bringing anyone in to play in the half-backs, he’ll be one of our half-backs next season.”