OPINION: A need for more leadership?

A valiant effort, particularly for the final twenty minutes last week saw Wigan nearly snatch, what would have been, an incredible victory. The conveyor belt of talent coming through the academy really is superb, Joe Bretherton, Nick Gregson, Liam Marshall and Tom Davies all impressed and ensure Wigan’s squad really does look the strongest and deepest in Super League. One area of concern for me for the first 60 minutes against Hull was Wigan’s apparent lack of leadership on the field. At times, there seemed to be disorganisation in both attack and defence and no one player looking to control the game from Wigan – comparing that with Hull who had Sneyd, Ellis, Minachello, Kelly and Houghton (until he went off injured).

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Back in 2010, Michael Maguire appointed a leadership team, which enabled the captaincy to be shared amongst a group of players, with O’Loughlin reassuming fulltime captaincy duties in 2011. At the moment Wigan face a real leadership gap – with O’Loughlin, Farrell, McIllorum and Sam Tomkins injured – the leadership “group” on Friday was pretty much Thomas Leuluai and Joel Tomkins. Due to the ongoing injuries there is a real need for the more experienced younger players to step up and take over the leadership duties much like Sean O’Loughlin had to do when Andrew Farrell left. That may seem like a lot of pressure on young players but an overreliance on the likes of O’Loughlin might see us have a leadership gap in a year or two; look at what happened to Leeds when they lost three influential leaders – likewise Wigan after losing Farrell and Radlinski.

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A mini leadership group of the likes of Powell, Williams, Bateman and Isa for example is probably needed, if not in name but in action on the field. The onus will be on the likes of Powell and Williams to develop their leadership skills due to their position on the field and I think with a little more experienced in those areas in the art of controlling the game, we may have seen Wigan get back into the game earlier on Friday night. It may seem like a harsh criticism of an excellent generation of Wigan players but I think those skills are ones, once learnt, will convert this excellent team into a truly dominant one.

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