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Wigan Warriors: An Extensive Look At Their 2017 Season

League Record

Regular Season:

Played: 23 Won: 10 Draw: 3 Lost: 10 For: 539 Against: 518 Deducted: 0 Points: 23

After Super 8s (Includes regular season tally):

Played: 30 Won: 14 Drawn: 3 Lost: 13 For: 691 Against: 668 Deducted: 0 Points: 31

League Position

After the regular season: 7th

After the Super 8s: 6th

Player of the Year

Oliver Gildart.

In a season that Wigan struggled to make a true impression on the league and their fans, Oliver Gildart was a constant performer. Even through those tough times in the season, he was always a standout. He gave it his all every single time he wore that cherry and white jersey, and brought some glimmer of hope to the ancient and loyal fans.

He finished the season with 11 tries and 7 try assists – which may not seem like a great deal, but considering the injuries throughout the season, he had to play in a few different combinations on the left-edge, and that shown in his stats. There was only George Williams and Thomas Leuluai who got more assists for Wigan in 2017 with 29 and 11 respectively.

Season Summary

2017 wasn’t the best of years for Wigan Warriors, yet it will still go down as a memorable year. On the 19th February 2017, Wigan Warriors beat Cronulla Sharks 22-6 to become the four-time World Club Champions. It was a remarkable day for not only the Wigan club, but for the English game in general – a result that brought a bit of good news to our league.

However, following that big result, and their first trophy of the season, it soon went downhill from there for Wigan Warriors. It was a season of more downs than ups, and one that didn’t do much to entertain and keep the ancient and loyal faithful happy. From their rather lethargic attack and sometimes leaky defence, it was a struggle of a year.

Compared to their 2016 Super League campaign, Wigan would win six fewer games in 2017 during the regular season, finishing with nine fewer points and in a worrying seventh position. They didn’t get much better in the Super 8s, as they finished sixth, win just four of their seven games. It just wasn’t good enough for Wigan Warriors.

They finished the season as World Club Champions, runners up in the Challenge Cup (in which they lost out to Hull FC) and missed out on the play-offs for the first time since 2006. They lost a total of 13 games out of 30 they played in the league, losing to some rather poor sides. All in all, it was a real miss of a season for Wigan Warriors.

Talking Points

2017 World Club Champions

Wigan had one saving grace in 2017, and that was becoming World Club Champions. Wigan could have won every trophy on offer last season, and that would still be the clear stand-out for coach Shaun Wane and his players. It was a real honour to see that achievement live, one I will never forget as a Wigan fan.

It was a great moment for Wigan and the English game, one that proved we can compete with the Aussie boys. England nearly went one step further on that debate in the World Cup too, so were getting better. It was the great start to the season they needed, it’s just a shame that it all went downhill from there on out.

To see not only my team, but a Super League side become the best rugby league club in the world was a tremendous feeling. You could see how much it meant to whole club, and there’s nothing else that can top that. They may never win it again – I’m just glad I had the chance to see us win it the once. 

Another season of injuries

Just like in 2016, they struggled big time with injuries to their entire squad. Whether that be a star player, or a young lad who came in to help out the already depleted side – it was a real struggle for Wane and his medical staff. I lost count with the amount of injuries they had during 2017, and I wouldn’t even like to hazard a guess.

But, losing players like Tomkins, Burgess, Manfredi, Escaré, Farrell, Gildart, Gelling, Clubb, Flower and many more throughout the year says how much they struggled through 2017. They seemed to be losing players in great numbers, and very quickly, and it had a huge say on their form during the early months.

However, I don’t like to use it as an excuse for too long, as players like Marshall and Davies came into the fold and proved to be great talents promoted from the youth side. Both chipping in with 34 tries between them, during the super league campaign. It was the only positive during the injury hit season – discovering new, young talent.

Kicking game needs some serious work

It’s no secret that one of Wigan’s weakest points is their kicking game – both conversion attempts and during the run of play. Over the years, Wigan have never had to really struggle with that side of their game, having had the likes of Frano Botica, Andy Farrell and pat Richards to name a few.

Since losing Richards back in 2013, they’ve never really replaced the Irish international. Having had numerous kickers try and take centre stage, they have never managed to find the right one. Last season alone, they had at least five players taking kicks (Williams, Escaré, Marshall, Burgess, Powell), there’s more I’ve probably forgot.

It is something that Wane realises is a problem, and for the first time openly made a change for the better. They’ve brought in Charlie Hodgson, as a kicking consultant. The former rugby union fly-half has already started his work with the Wigan players. It’s a step in the right direction, as Wigan aim to improve an important part of the game.

Performances

Best performance of 2017

St Helens 16-26 Wigan Warriors (Round 4 of Super 8s)

This was a standout in a real hit and a miss season. It added some light at the end of a very long, and dark tunnel. This was make or break time for Wigan, and they desperately needed to win to keep their play-off hopes alive. It was only a few days after their Challenge Cup Final defeat to Hull FC at Wembley Stadium – that’s what made this win more impressive.

To go and play your most fierce rivals, at their ground, after losing a huge Cup Final, and win – that takes some real courage and effort. We got to see a glimpse of the real Wigan Warriors, one that had been missing all season. Not only that, but it spoilt the Ben Barba party, who was making his first appearance for St Helens.

Tries from Gelling, Williams and an early brace for Gildart set Wigan on their way to a famous win. One that put them in a great position in their fight for the play-offs. Something that seemed dead in the water just a few weeks prior. It was a great night for Wane and his players – and one I’m sure the fans won’t forget in a hurry.

Worst performance of 2017

Wigan Warriors 20-38 Castleford Tigers (Round 6 of Super 8s)

On an afternoon that would’ve seen Wigan claim their spot in the play-offs, saw their season come to a crumbling and almost fitting finale. They found themselves 26-0 down at one stage, at home against a side who had next to nothing, but a bit of form, to play for. It was a real shocking afternoon for the Warriors and their fans.

Earlier in the season, they got absolutely mauled by the Tigers 54-4 at The Jungle. Some may argue that was a worse 80 minutes for the cherry and whites. However, Castleford was in full swing then, and where battering sides left, right and centre. In this game, Wigan where the side in form, and having a lot to play for.

It was a season ending result for the Warriors, but one they ultimately deserved after the poor 2017 they had. It was a performance in which summed up their season. Down on their lucky throughout, tried to force a comeback, but ultimately not having enough to get the job done. Most definitely a day to forget.

Shaun Wane has his say on 2017…

“There’s no doubting it was a strong competition, but I can’t get away from the fact I’ve driven home from games and only been happy three or four times.

“That’s it. And that’s down to me, how we train, the teams we pick. We’ve done some very good things in attack and defence, but not consistently enough.

“Big picture, we won the World Club and got to Wembley. We had injuries like no one else – I think we had three games with 11 starters out.

“But little picture, there haven’t been many games I’ve driven home and been really happy. There wasn’t enough we can be happy with this year.

“We will change – not tweak – the way we train. We’re getting to the bottom of every detail. I’ll listen to ideas of my staff and senior players, and then I’ll make a decision.

“I want us to improve. I’m not deluded and thinking everything is good. I don’t like the fact we weren’t in the Grand Final, it annoyed me. And I’ll be annoyed until pre-season.”

2018 Ins and Outs

INS:

Gabriel Hamlin (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Dan Sarginson (Gold Coast Titans)

OUTS:

Nick Gregson (Leigh Centurions)

Kyle Shelford (Swinton Lions)

Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons)

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