Five times before, Wigan Warriors have been crowned Super League champions, but never before have they managed to earn that tagline two years on the spin. For last night’s match-winner Liam Marshall, that needs to change.
Very much deserving of the ‘hometown hero’ label, winger Marshall crossed for the only try of the game midway through the second half against Catalans Dragons, sealing a first Grand Final win for the Cherry and Whites since 2018.
Debuting for the club in 2017, having spent a year in the Championship on loan with Swinton Lions, Marshall missed out on that 2018 triumph through injury. He also had to sit on the sidelines in 2020 when the Warriors were beaten by St Helens behind closed doors at Hull’s MKM Stadium, but Marshall’s more than made up for it now.
Having lifted the League Leaders’ Shield, he was always confident of an Old Trafford push, going on to score a hat-trick on his 150th Warriors appearance as they swept aside Hull KR in the play-off semi-finals.
Wigan had been tipped to create a ‘dynasty’ before their Old Trafford showdown with the Dragons, and outside the camp, that noise will only increase now following the 10-2 win. Post-match, Marshall admitted that’s exactly what he wants his teammates to chase.
Hometown hero Liam Marshall lays down challenge for Wigan Warriors following Grand Final triumph
The 27-year-old – who was let go by the Warriors in his youth before being recalled and offered a professional deal, penning an extension until the end of 2025 last year – said: “We’ve got to try to go and do it again.
“I think in the whole of the Super League era, Wigan have never gone back-to-back, so that’s probably what we’ll start pre-season talking about.
“There’s that hunger to reach the top of the mountain again, we don’t want this to be one and done. We want to try and build a squad and a team that can have years of success, but I’m sure there’ll be a few teams next year that’ll be itching and be ready to play us.
“We’ve got a target on our back now as the champions. In the next couple of days we’ll just enjoy it as a team and have a good celebration, but then it’ll be back to work in a few weeks.
“Big credit to all the lads for the effort and endeavour. That’s what it’s all built on, and to win that trophy tonight is on top of what’s been a good season.”
‘A dream I didn’t even think about’: Old Trafford match-winner Marshall details pride in grabbing try at Theatre of Dreams
Flier Marshall also scored the winning try as Wigan lifted the Challenge Cup in 2022, meeting a dabbed kick through from Harry Smith in the 77th minute against Huddersfield Giants at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
This time around, it wasn’t quite as dramatic. With Catalans down to 12 for the second time in the game having seen ex-Warriors speedster Tom Davies sin-binned for a professional foul on Marshall, the Wigan man was in the right place at the right time to take the ball off captain Liam Farrell and fall over the line unchallenged.
However it came about, getting his name on the scoresheet for his hometown club in a Grand Final is an achievement that the academy product isn’t likely to forget anytime soon, particularly given the venue it came at.
Post-match, he added: “Obviously it was massive to score what turned out to be the winning try in a Grand Final. It’s absolutely outstanding for me as an individual, but more importantly for the team’s success.
“I was just ecstatic, and the next job was trying to think what we need to do as a team and I was cramping up as well. I think I cheered for celebration and then cheered for someone to come on to fix my cramp so that was probably what was going through my mind!
“It’s probably not sunk in yet, it wasn’t what I was thinking about, I was just wanting to go and get the win for the team.
“Luckily enough, with the position I play in, I get those chances but credit to the boys. (Jake) Wardle and Faz put it on a plate, I just had to fall over the line, but it was an unbelievable feeling in front of the Stretford End.
“Manchester United are the team I support, so it was probably a dream that I didn’t even think about leading up to this. We’ve cemented ourselves as a champion team so hopefully we can build on this and do more going forward.”