Wigan Warriors made the playoffs but couldn’t defend their 2018 Super League title. Here’s how their season unfolded.
Super League Record
Competition Points: 36
Super League: Play-offs
Challenge Cup: Round 6
Wigan Warriors Player of the Year: Zak Hardaker
What was good about their season?
2018 was always going to be a hard year to follow up and nothing less than back-to-back Super League titles would do it. Despite not reaching Old Trafford in 2019, there were plenty of positives for the Warriors in 2019.
The impact their younger players have had is probably the most important and vital to them as a club going forward. Having lost several senior players at the end of 2018 (John Bateman, Ryan Sutton, Sam Tomkins), they have really stepped up and made a name for themselves. The club’s Young Player of the Season award was shared out between Oliver Partington and Morgan Smithies, both whom are now regular first-teamers in just a matter of games.
The signing of Bevan French at the end of July definitely added a new dimension to the Wigan attack. He has been featuring off the bench towards the end of the season and has helped them to capitalise on tired opposition defences.
What was not so good about their season?
The most disappointing factor for Wigan in 2019 has been their lack of consistency. They started off the season winning just one of their first six Super League games as well as the World Club Challenge to Sydney Roosters back in February. Picking up odd points during mid-season was leaving their fans worried about their head coach’s management skills and what direction the club was going in.
Despite this, they had one of the strongest ends to the season in the competition, winning 12 out of their final 13 games. Heading into the play-offs full of confidence, they managed to beat Salford in the first round before losing the following two games to St Helens and then Salford again.
Their lack of points at the start of the season meant they were constantly needing to pick up points during the business end of the season, meaning they had very little left in the tank for the play-offs.
Captain Sean O’Loughlin was limited to 22 games this season and looked to be ready for retirement as his game time gets more limited. His leadership is unquestionable but is it time for him to hang up his boots and let someone else step up?
Who was their best player in 2019?
Morgan Smithies is the stand-out candidate of the Wigan side in 2019. At only 18, he became the first player born this century to feature for the club. Since debuting in March, he’s made 24 appearances in 2019 which is incredible for a debutant.
He shows no fear when facing more experienced forwards and is a ready-made replacement for O’Loughlin. He’s also broken a Super League record this season, making 72 tackles in just 62 minutes against Salford in their play-off match in September. Not bad for a rookie!