The performance on Saturday against Castleford was atrocious, there is no other way of dressing it up. The injury situation is bad and the score line reflects that, however the performance was not acceptable for a Wigan side. Even with the young players that have been put in the side and losing three players to injury during the game – the way in which some of the players seemingly gave up, will have disappointed Shaun Wane and the fans the most.
Nobody likes losing, but there is a manner in which a loss is more acceptable and Saturday night looked like there was a poor attitude from the players; probably one of the first times we have seen that from a Wane team. However, the loss and type of loss is probably more due to the current league format than anything else. Losing to a side by 50 points but still knowing that you can beat Castleford once, in the semi-final or final and be made champions is probably the underlying issue. There is no real, great reward for winning every game of the season – if anything there is less incentive to do so. To be cynical, you could argue that being in 4th or 5th place going into the Super 8 series is a better position for a club as there would appear to be more riding on those seven games and an increased opportunity of higher attendances during those games. Rather than say, being 8 points clear of 5th place in the top two positions; it’s an unfortunate by-product of the current league structure. Which means that the surrender from Wigan’s players on Saturday is probably not going to punish them as much as it would in say the NRL ladder, likewise Castleford’s reward is that they are only 3 points above Wigan, despite earning 4 points in their two meetings against them so far.
Wigan, as a result of the current league structure, for me, target some key points of the season and accept that results either side of those milestones may not go to plan. They target Good Friday, Magic Weekend, the Challenge Cup and the key games in the Super 8’s before the play offs. I expect Wigan to very much manage their injuries and players for the next two weeks before they target their next big goal, a third win in a row in the North East.