Wigan coach Adrian Lam has made a bold statement by claiming Wigan’s current back five is the best in Super League.
The Warriors battered Catalans Dragons 46-0 at the DW Stadium to claim back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019.
Joe Burgess (3), Oliver Gildart and Zak Hardaker got on the scoresheet for Wigan, and Lam believes the trio, along with Dom Manfredi and Dan Sarginson, are the best back five in Super League.
Speaking after the game, Lam said: “I think our back five are the best in the competition at the moment, and Jarrod Sammut had his best game for us today.
“It’s a big statement but I think Joe Burgess coming back has made a massive difference for us. Zak has lost about six kilograms since the start of the season and I think that’s partly why he is performing a bit better.
“It was always going to take six to eight weeks for him to get back to where he was but what I like about Zak is that he has taken on a leadership role now. I still think he has still got about 30% to go and once he feels as though this team is his, he will get even better.
“I still think we are going to get better because we still didn’t do some of the things that we talked about. Everyone will be talking about the 42 points but I was happier with the no points against us. Hopefully it is the start of us defending better because if we can get that right then I think we will be on our way.”
Lam was forced to ring the changes for the game as he was without key forwards Tony Clubb, Sean O’Loughlin, Gabe Hamlin and Liam Farrell through injury, while Joe Greenwood and Taulima Tautai were suspended.
Youngsters Ollie Partington, Liam Paisley and Liam Byrne came into the side, with Morgan Smithies making his first-team debut.
Lam added: “We had Tony Clubb, Sean O’Loughlin, Gabe Hamlin and Joe Greenwood out so we haven’t had any cohesion through the season with our injuries and that has been a bit of a headache but that has given the younger guys an opportunity.
“Partington, Paisley and Byrne got back into the side and Smithies made his debut. Byrne played 60 minutes straight in the front-row and as a 20-year-old, that is a pretty good effort.
“Smithies has come through system here, he signed as a 14-year-old from Siddal in Halifax, so he has been here for a long time.
“He played great for England Academy against the Australian Schoolboys last year. I liked him then and looked forward to giving him an opportunity at some stage this year. It probably came a bit earlier than we would have liked but for him to stand up to a player like Greg Bird was great.
“We also had Joe Shorrocks who was our 18th man. He is another player who is coming through so it’s a great sign for the club that we are prepared to give the young ones a go. Going from the performance of Smithies today, he has got a big future at the club.”
Lam confirmed O’Loughlin, Greenwood, Hamlin and Tautai will be available for next Friday’s trip to Castleford Tigers.