A Wigan defeat in two week’s time against Huddersfield but be their worst winless streak for over century – it isn’t great. But the amount of comparisons I have seen on social media, between the current form and 2006 are way off for me. This isn’t 2006 but it could be 2003.
Wigan are in a completely different situation to the mess Millward left the club in, we have a solid ownership team, a great academy and one of the best coaches around. Wigan are – short of confidence and overplaying young players against teams of men due to injuries, ultimately it takes its toll and the past month has shown that.
However, this season can still be rescued starting with cup success on Saturday against Warrington. Up to six returning first team players is going to vital for Wigan but crucially, the return of leadership. Wigan have been really poor in defence recently, uncharacteristic of a Shaun Wane side and I think, one of the main reasons for this, is the lack of leadership on the field. Bring back O’Loughlin, John Bateman and Sam Tomkins then you have three international players who will ooze confidence back through the side, but all three are leaders, in their own way and style.
I don’t expect Sam Tomkins to be the 2012 Sam Tomkins, running around defences for fun – but I do expect him to be the passionate, on the edge leader than he had to become in the later stages of last season. That part of Tomkin’s game is enough for him to go straight back into the starting line up on Saturday.
Why do I say this season isn’t a repeat of 2006 but could be of 2003, well in 2003 Wigan went on an 11 game unbeaten run through to the Grand Final under the stewardship of the late Mike Gregory. Wigan have 12 Super League games left this season and they need to replicate the 2003 run of results to stand any chance of making a 5th Grand Final in a row. A galvanising win in the Challenge Cup on Saturday may just be the lighting of the blue touch paper for Wigan – one way or another.