Super League 2019 Preview: New era for champions Wigan

James Gordon

Champions Wigan go in to the new season with a new coach and having lost some significant players from their title winning squad.

It’s perhaps unusual for the holders to endure such change over the off-season, but that has been the case at the DW Stadium with Adrian Lam coming in as coach for Shaun Wane.

Lam has been clear to point out he wants Wigan to play his brand of rugby, without moving too far away from what has made them successful in recent years.

In terms of players, the exits of John Bateman, Ryan Sutton and Sam Tomkins are the most significant, while how controversial Zak Hardaker takes to life as a Warrior may have a telling impact on their season.

Wigan made one of the more interesting signings of the winter in Jarrod Sammut from London Broncos, and his off the cuff style may well point to the expansive brand of rugby Lam is wanting to employ.

Even more peculiar than having a new coach after a championship winning season, Lam faces the prospect of being replaced by Shaun Edwards at the end of the campaign – though there were hints recently that should Lam prove successful, then things could change.

Warriors half-back Thomas Leuluai said: “It was obviously going to be a big challenge with everyone, players and staff, that were leaving.

“We will see on the weekend how it’s gone, but it’s been quite smooth and I think Lammy has done a great job, and it’s a tough job for him to come in with us winning last year.

“It’s been difficult but he’s done a good job. He’s incorporated his style of play but also hasn’t taken away from what we’ve done well, which is really smart of him. He understands we have a decent culture and there was some stuff he wanted to change football wise.”

Wigan kick-off the Super League season with a mouth-watering clash against St Helens, live on Sky Sports, on Thursday night.

Coach: Adrian Lam
Assistant: John Winder
Captain: Sean O’Loughlin
Key Man: Zak Hardaker
One to Watch: Joe Bullock

Ins: Zak Hardaker (unattached), Joe Bullock (Barrow), Jarrod Sammut (London B)

Outs: Joel Tomkins (Hull KR), Sam Tomkins (Catalans), John Bateman, Ryan Sutton (both Canberra), Joe Bretherton (Toulouse), Declan O’Donnell, Jack Higginson (both Leigh), Lewis Heckford (Dewsbury), Caine Barnes (Workington, loan), Josh Woods (Leigh, loan)

Squad: 1 Morgan Escaré 2  Tom Davies, 3 Dan Sarginson, 4 Oliver Gildart, 5 Joe Burgess, 6 George Williams, 7 Thomas Leuluai, 8 Tony Clubb, 9 Sam Powell, 10 Ben Flower, 11 Joe Greenwood, 12 Liam Farrell, 13 Sean O’Loughlin, 14 Romain Navarrete, 15 Willie Isa, 16 Gabe Hamlin, 17 Liam Marshall, 18 Warriors Fans, 19 Taulima Tautai, 20 Zak Hardaker, 21 Dom Manfredi, 22 Joe Bullock, 23 Chris Hankinson, 24 Oliver Partington, 25 Craig Mullen, 26 Josh Woods, 27 Jake Shorrocks, 28 Jack Wells, 29 Liam Paisley, 30 Josh Ganson, 31 Liam Forsyth, 32 Samy Kibula, 33 Callum Field, 34 Caine Barnes, 35 James Worthington, 36 Liam Byrne, 37 Jarrod Sammut

Prediction: 4th