Wigan Warriors' tactics defended

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The Independent Online

Martin Sadler, a leading sports writer, has leapt to the defence of Wigan Warriors after criticism of their "wrestling" tactics which have taken them to the top of Super League.

The editor of The Rugby League Express airs his views to Tryline, the Independent's Rugby League podcast, where he attributes any blame for the issue firmly at the door of the referees.

Sadler feels that the Warriors should be getting credit for the way they have started the season but instead, the headlines are being dominated by negatives such as John Kear's comments before and after Wakefield's game against Michael Maguire's men on Easter Monday.

His remarks followed a similar complaint from Hull FC coach Richard Agar earlier in the season after his team had been beaten by Wigan but Sadler is convinced this is merely a case of "sour grapes."

He said: "A coach will adopt whatever tactics it takes to win the game. They are adopting wrestling techniques, straight from Melbourne, but they are able to do it because the referees are giving them the latitude to be able to do it. And while the referees are not forcing the tacklers to get away from the ruck more quickly then Wigan's tactics are going to be the right ones and the other clubs are going to be the wrong ones I'm afraid"

Sadler has also hit back at Kear's claim that watching Wigan is "like watching paint dry" and reckons the fans at the DW Stadium will have few complaints about what they are seeing this season.

He added: "I've watched Wigan a few times this season and I can't honestly say that Wigan are a poor side to watch."

The stats back up his belief as the Warriors are currently the leading scorers in the competition so far this term, having scored 20 points or more in every game.

No doubt the Rugby Football League will be monitoring events closely following Kear's call for a second referee to be introduced to combat the suggestion the Warriors are pushing the boundaries of the game in the tackle.

Meanwhile, Sadler is tipping Leeds Rhinos to come good after their "indifferent" start to the season. He singles out the return of Lee Smith from Rugby Union as a positive step forward for the reigning champions, after his outstanding performance on his second debut for the club against Bradford.

Sadler said: "You would only write them off in you are an idiot really. I think Leeds will finish in the top four and from that point onwards they will be a massive threat to anyone above them."

The Rugby League correspondent feels that the re-emergence of Wigan, along with other clubs, to challenge the recent stranglehold over the game by Leeds and St Helens, is a good thing for the sport in general in this country.

He added: "It's looking to me as though, conceivably, we could have a grand final this year that is not between Leeds and St Helens which would be a very good thing."

To hear what else Martin had to say about Wigan and the game as a whole, reviews of the Easter weekend games and a look at the latest news, listen to The Independent's Tryline podcast by clicking here.

Alternatively you can download the Tryline podcast from iTunes by clicking here.