Opinion Piece: Lena-gone Down Under by Matt Brown


Lena-gone Down Under

Chairman takes us Down to Australia but Under Ian the sky’s the limit

By Matt Brown

It is an understatement that we are all a little frustrated with how last season ended. It started so brightly with the World Club Challenge – on top of the world. Injuries took over and then we rallied to the cup final but finished an average 6th place.

We were all ready for last week. The long, dark, cold arduous months that separate the on season from the off have given us a chance to reflect and build up that hunger once more. I stood on the terrace at Salford and watched a sparkling second half performance which gave us that fizzy feeling inside. The feeling that Rugby League is back and with two important league points in the back pocket to boot.

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And ah yes not long now until the big kick-off of the first game of our early season Australian tour vs Hull FC. It has been the topic that has got tongues wagging during the off-season. I’ve heard the moaning from the mouths about our trip down to Wollongong from fans who aren’t happy that we’ve been “robbed” of a home game. I’ve seen the tweets that suggest our squad is on a “free holiday” and most of the anger has been directed towards Mr Lenagan. Of course the chairman is the one who ultimately gets judged by his decisions and by the club’s fortunes on and off the field. It has been a winter which has been marred by constant complaining rather than careful consideration.

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It has been over 10 years since Mr Lenagan bought the club and took over as chairman and owner. I too have questioned a few of Mr Lenagan’s decisions I mean no-one is perfect right? On the whole though I have nothing to say but positive things including about our trip Down Under. There’s always things that we could do better or differently and I’m sure Mr Lenagan would admit that himself but generally speaking since he took over his track record of successes for the club speaks for itself.

“We are the only club that does this type of thing – taking home games on the road – it’s ridiculous” one fan said to me. In terms of the implications this will have on the squad in terms of playing, jet lag, impacts on the back end of our season or maybe in the immediate aftermath of our return back to the UK remains to be seen. Despite this uncertainty, the merits and potential of this trip far outweigh the criticisms in my opinion. Lee Radford rightfully pointed out earlier this week that it’s a great way to attract players to your club at a time when player recruitment and retention within the confines of the salary cap is such a contentious issue. You give your English players a chance to experience playing in Australia whilst giving your overseas players the chance for a fortnight back “home”.  I take pride in the fact that we are the only club that does this type of thing. You showcase the Wigan brand, once again, Down Under to the Rugby League fanatics, media and NRL talent which populate the Eastern Seaboard. You give the fans who can afford the trip a memorable experience – possibly of a lifetime too. Of course there’s the cash which we’ve been offered from those in New South Wales who have contributed to the organising of the club’s tour.

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This can only be good for the club finances especially when the rumours are that season ticket sales are down on last year.

I mean who’d buy a season ticket anyway when it only arrives a whole month before the first home game of the season? Disgraceful.

Who’d be buying a season ticket when all it does is facilitate the wages of a certain marquee number one full-back who has no pace, can’t kick, can’t tackle and can’t organise anymore? (Yes unbelievably I’ve heard people say this). Scandalous!

Who’d be buying a season ticket anyway when all we do is sign players that we are delighted to see return at the time of the announcement of the signing but decide with hindsight that we don’t like it anymore?

Who’d be buying a season ticket anyway when Mr Lenagan is covering the cost of some of the club’s investments with his own money but is still of course running the club on a “shoe-string budget” and is “penny pinching”. He’s using all the money he should be spending to sign Johnathan Thurston and from the “sale” of Michael McIlorum in order to “line his own pockets” and fly around like a big shot in a diamond encrusted helicopter! Outrageous! Now I’m just being silly there but no sillier than some of the comments I’ve heard so you see my point?

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There’s a saying that “if you do what you always did you’ll get what you’ve always got”. Wigan with Mr Lenagan in charge are continuing to do new things, are breaking down barriers and are taking positive steps to keep Wigan at the top of the Rugby League tree.

Let’s hope we bring home those two points and Mr Lenagan doesn’t just have some corks in his hat but also another feather in his cap.

Hooroo! Come on Wigan!

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