For years they flattered to deceive but the 2010’s really have seen Wigan return as one of the ‘big guns’ in the English game.
Hated, adored and never ignored, the Warriors have bounced back from a disappointing 2000s to win multiple counts of silverware.
They have brought through some exciting young talent over the ten years, as well as signing some top players from elsewhere.
So, after much consideration, here is my Wigan Team of the Decade…
Full-back – Sam Tomkins
The 2012 Man of Steel Sam Tomkins was one of the world’s best until his first departure in 2013, having won two titles on top of his personal accolade. His devastating side-step, speed and ability to rotate between attacking positions made him a serious threat and though his return did not fully work out, he remains one of their greatest players in the summer era.
Wingers – Josh Charnley & Pat Richards
Josh Charnley topped the competition’s try-scoring awards in 2012 and 2013 and was unplayable at times, with his finishing ability and lightning speed. If the pacey winger had stayed in a Wigan shirt rather than move to rugby union, he could have broken all kinds of records in cherry and white.
Pat Richards meanwhile managed over 2100 points in just over 200 appearances for the Warriors and will remain one of the competition’s greatest ever signings from down under. Though his speed was not his strongest point, his height and goal kicking ability made him such a danger and in 2010 his talents were recognised with the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.
Centres – George Carmont & Anthony Gelling
Samoan international George Carmont arrived in 2008 and served five seasons with the club, scoring 71 tries. He helped Wigan rise again from mid-table back to winning silverware and was notoriously one of the most difficult players to handle in the competition, with power and speed to burn.
Meanwhile Cook Islander Anthony Gelling averaged a try every other appearances for the Warriors. His unpredictable and off-the-cuff style sometimes had his teammates guessing as much as the opposition but there is no doubting his natural ability, with the ‘man of the people’ a huge favourite during his time at Wigan.
Stand-off – George Williams
Another difficult choice but England international George Williams is chosen. He certainly had big shoes to fill when he replaced Blake Green but Williams took Wigan’s attack to another level. His cheeky side-step, accurate kicking game and scoring ability helped him to become one of the competition’s top players during his days with the Warriors.
Scrum-half – Thomas Leuluai
Kiwi Thomas Leuluai has been consistently superb for Wigan. The 34-year-old is currently in his second spell for the club, having been part of their 2010 and 2018 title winning teams. His strong points are his strength with ball in hand, ability to defend plus his experience of directing the team around the field, especially when in attack. Leuluai is undoubtedly the biggest hitting half-back to have played in Super League.
Props – Tony Clubb & Ben Flower
Tony Clubb arrived in 2014 from London Broncos and has slotted in nicely to the side. His passionate and fiery character was perfect for a Shaun Wane side, quickly becoming a regular in cherry and white.
He is joined up front by another full-blooded player in Ben Flower. The Welsh international has done superbly to put the infamous 2014 Grand Final incident behind him and help Wigan win more silverware.
Hooker – Michael McIlorum
Talking of passion, in the hooking role is Michael McIlorum. The West Yorkshire-born player spent 11 seasons with the club, departing in 2017. He helped the club win multiple Grand Finals, providing continuous runs from acting half. A constant threat in attack, ‘Micky Mac’ is also recognised for his no-nonsense defence and often rocks men twice his size.
Second-row – Liam Farrell & John Bateman
Liam Farrell arrived on scene in 2010 from the Wigan academy and the local lad has thrived since. His attack is second to none, able to make over 100 metres per game on countless occasions, while also becoming a regular in the side, making the Super League Dream Team on multiple occasions.
His back-row partner is current NRL star John Bateman. He is arguably the best Super League signing of the decade having helped the club win numerous major trophies, while also challenging for the Man of Steel award several times. Strong, evasive and recognised as the ultimate competitor, Bateman is irreplaceable.
Loose-forward – Sean O’Loughlin
There could only be one guy for this position and that is skipper Sean O’Loughlin. Named in the Super League Dream Team on seven occasions this decade, the man has been an outstanding individual and leader for the club. As well as being wise, ‘Lockers’ is not afraid to get his hands dirty with his tackling ability, while even acting as an extra pivot at times in attack. He will be remembered as a Wigan great and rightly so.
Coach – Shaun Wane
Though he arguably inherited predecessor Michael Maguire’s team, Shaun Wane remained at the helm until 2018 and managed to lift three Super League titles along with a League Leaders’ Shield, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge. He possesses a unique and passionate style to coaching and his record cannot be questioned, leading to many calling for Wane to be handed the England job before the 2021 World Cup.