This week, Gary Hetherington released an open letter to Leeds fans stating that March was crucial to the club and in particular for the future of playing and coaching staff. Ironically, the last game of March for Leeds is Wigan at Headingley –that could mean the game between Leeds and Wigan could be the one that seals Brian McDermott’s fate one way or another.
I also believe March could be a crucial month for Wigan if they are to win the League Leaders Shield for the first time since 2012. It is early days still in the season, I know, but with St Helens, Warrington and Leeds suffering stuttering starts – March presents an opportunity for Wigan to pull away from those teams and perhaps set up a shoot-out at the top of the competition with Castleford, who are impressing many at the moment.
The injuries to Burgess, Gildart, Tierney, Bateman and Sutton (along with the long term absentees) ensure that success in March is going to be very much a squad effort. Wigan play Warrington, Huddersfield, Hull and Leeds in March (as well as already beating Leigh). I would say that four wins out of five from that period would set Wigan up very nicely to compete for the £100,000 reward of winning the League Leaders Shield – a fact, I think, is often lost when discussing the merits of finishing top. An extra £100,000 in the coffers could take a big difference when it comes to player retention and signings.
Wigan will have to dig deep to make March successful, but I think Wigan do have the strongest squad in the league and it will be a month when players like Liam Forsyth, Tom Davies, Jack Wells and Josh Ganson get their opportunity on the first team stage. As we saw with Gildart, Powell etc , if they take their opportunity then Shaun Wane will reward them with more appearances throughout the year.
It is an exciting month ahead, in which I am hoping to seeing Jack Wells get another shot in the first team after his three appearances last year, a player who impressed many in the England Academy in 2016.
The injuries to those mentioned above will hopefully mean that they return in time for the busy Easter period, in-particular the Castleford game on April 6 and Wigan’s attempt to make it eight Good Friday wins in a row on April 14.
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