I thought Wigan’s injury crisis last year would be one that we would not see again for a long time, but with what is looking like a serious to Oliver Gildart, along with Farrell and Gelling not expected to play on Thursday night against highflying Castleford – I think this is probably our worst injury crisis since 2003. We seem to be constantly at a point of players being on the verge of returning, only to have another setback.
Winning the Grand Final last year with the amount of injuries we had was an unbelievable achievement and one that a win on Thursday won’t match, however I think a win on Thursday against the free scoring Castleford side would be the most unexpected Wigan win since the 2003 Good Friday game against St Helens. On that day, Stuart Raper handed out four debuts and Wigan were 18 – 6 down at one point, and still, somehow won the game 26-24 thanks to Shaun Briscoe and Terry Newton inspired performance.
Shaun Wane certainly isn’t in the position that he will have to hand out four debuts on Thursday night, however the fact that Wigan have adapted so well to their injuries probably masks over the how deep the injury crisis currently is. At the moment, we have two brilliant young wingers who have done everything asked of them – but in reality, they are probably the 5th and 6th choice wingers – after Burgess, Manfredi, Tierney and Escare. When you consider that, it really is unbelievable, is there another side in Super League, who could field their 5th and 6th choice wingers that would still rip it up in Super League?
I have said this previously in this column that Wigan don’t view injuries as a cause for concern, they view them as opportunities. Thursday night is exactly that, a fantastic opportunity. It is a game in which we shouldn’t be looking to use our young team as an excuse of an inevitable loss against a team, that is playing very well at the moment and has many people waxing lyrical about – its an opportunity – a fantastic opportunity to show the strength of the Wigan club – not just on the field, but off it. What a way that would be to go into the Good Friday game against St Helens, with an unexpected win on Thursday night with a set of excellent young players. Let’s get behind whichever 17 we have available and upset the odds!