Wigan shrug off Easter slog to set Super League pace

Despite injuries and a tough schedule Warriors are showing signs the glory days could be back

Super League has a problem with Easter – unless your name is Wigan.

Amid the annual griping over playing two games in four days, the Warriors went to Hull KR on Monday and registered their biggest win in the history of the competition – 84-6 over a Rovers outfit who seemed to have conceded in advance that they could not win.

It suggests that Wigan have a different mind-set from the rest this season, particularly when their ultra-demanding coach, Shaun Wane, says that he is "gutted" that his side conceded even one try on Humberside. That is setting the bar very high indeed. "I wouldn't say they've surprised me," says Wane of Wigan's table-topping form so far. "I was always very confident about the ability in the squad."

That was the case even when they lost five of their most experienced players this winter, with the likes of George Carmont, Jeff Lima and Brett Finch all leaving. "A lot of people wrote us off and, to be honest, we've used that for motivation," Wane says.

When Wigan dominated the game 20 years ago, it was with a squad that clearly had more depth and quality than anyone else's. You could not say that about the 2013 vintage, especially after the departure of the gifted but troubled Gareth Hock and injuries to no fewer than half a dozen front-rowers.

With proven stars like Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley already in the side, a new tranche of young players, headed by Liam Farrell, has stepped up to the mark. "He's one we all knew would make it, because the preparation and the work he puts in is just the best," his coach says.

If anyone had the right to complain about their resources being stretched over Easter, it probably was still Wigan. Instead, they went quietly about their business, beating their biggest rivals, St Helens, on Good Friday and then going on the rampage on an even better Monday.

So, not surprisingly, Wane is having no truck with the argument that the extra workload once a season is intolerable. "I'm happy with the Easter programme the way it is," he says. "It's traditional in Britain. It's the way it's been for years and I wouldn't want anyone interfering with it."

For a diametrically opposed view of the Easter structure, you can lend an ear to the Widnes coach, Denis Betts, who described preparing players for two games in such quick succession as "close to cruelty".

He added: "Easter has been part of my life since I can remember, but I think we have to look at it now and say that it's not working. The reality now is that the game is even more physical." Whereas Wane urges other coaches to have more faith in their young players, Betts feels that that choice was taken out of his hands when he had to throw in a number of young reserves.

"I didn't put them in because I wanted to see them play," he says. "I put them in because I didn't have anyone else. Sometimes you have to let go of the past and drive the game forward."

Despite Betts embracing the cause, the loudest voices calling for a restructuring are Australian; even though their countrymen, who play the most demanding brand of rugby league in the world, often play for their clubs twice in 48 or even 24 hours.

Nobody seemed to be dreading the double dip this year quite as much as the Hull KR coach Craig Sandercock. Despite a morale-boosting victory over their rivals, Hull, across the city on Good Friday, he never gave off the vibe that a line-up minus various injured and rested players could perform on Monday.

The result is that any momentum they were building has been dissipated and Rovers' loyal fans are entitled to ask whether this was really the best team and the best performance they could expect. If the answer is no, they may point the finger at the busy Easter schedule.

But Shaun Wane, the coach of the squad that is simultaneously the most stretched and the most successful in Super League, is not playing the blame game, only the winning game at the moment and it could bring the glory days back to Wigan.

Wigan Warriors: Three stars so far

Liam Farrell A famous name, if a distant relation. Farrell's consistently excellent form this season has softened the impact of letting Gareth Hock go.

Jack Hughes Eyebrows were raised when he was given the No 4 shirt this season, but he has thrived playing both at centre and at second row.

Dom Crosby Perhaps the eighth-choice prop at the start of the campaign, he has come into his own over the Easter programme.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital