Adrian Lam won the League Leaders’ Shield as head coach of Wigan Warriors in 2020, and says it’s a ‘massive honour’, but current club Leigh Leopards will be doing everything in their power to ‘spoil the party’ tomorrow night.
Papua New Guinea native Lam spent four years with the Warriors in his own playing days, and returned for what ended up being a three-year stint at the helm of the DW Stadium outfit in 2019.
His second year in charge of the Cherry and Whites will always be remembered as the ‘COVID’ year, and the year which saw the Grand Final hosted away from Old Trafford for the first time ever.
Jack Welsby’s infamous try after the final hooter at Hull’s MKM Stadium famously saw bitter rivals St Helens pip Wigan in the Grand Final that year, earning their second consecutive title, but a few weeks prior, Lam and his squad lifted the League Leaders’ Shield having finished the regular part of the campaign with a win percentage of over 76%. Wigan haven’t won it since.
Leigh Leopards boss Adrian Lam details value of League Leaders’ Shield
Speaking in the build-up to tomorrow night’s clash, the 53-year-old told Love Rugby League: “It used to be the golden prize, like in football, but it just shows who’s the most consistent team over the year.
“I think it’s a massive honour for whichever club can win that, and we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the final game of the season being a Grand Final, but to be first across the line with a League Leaders’ Shield is a really big honour and a financial gain for the club too.
“It’s important that everyone aims for that, and I don’t know how long it’s been since there were three clubs who could potentially win it on the last day, it’s quite a unique year so far with what we’ve seen.
“All the best to those three clubs that are involved with a chance of winning that this weekend. We play Wigan here, and I think the Sky Sports channels feel that they’re in a prime position to do that here because they’ve hosted the game here, but we’ll wait and see. Hopefully we can spoil the party.”
Lam delivers verdict on Wigan Warriors’ season under former assistant Matt Peet
As detailed by the Leopards boss, three teams are still in the running to lift the League Leaders’ Shield tomorrow night, with Wigan, Catalans Dragons and St Helens all locked on 38 competition points having won 19 of their 26 games.
The Warriors lead the way with a vastly superior points difference after winning their last eight Super League fixtures in a row to overtake Catalans, who in turn have a big advantage over Saints in terms of points difference.
Accordingly, it’s Wigan who are in the driving seat and a win at the Leopards’ Den tomorrow would see them end as top dogs ahead of the play-offs, which Leigh will also be involved in for the first time in the club’s history.
Lam has already seen his former employers beat his current side twice this year, home and away, and believes the Cherry and Whites’ defeat in the Challenge Cup semi-final in July provided all the motivation they needed.
The Leopards chief, whose team went on to win the competition, told Love Rugby League: “Wigan have built this season as it’s gone along, bit by bit, I guess as a lot of clubs have.
“The teams that were hurt through the semi-finals or the final of the Challenge Cup seemed to bounce back really hard as you’d have expected them to do.
“That’s what you’d expect, but all three or four of those clubs have developed and improved during the season to a point where one of those will be the favourite for the competition.”