Wigan Warriors overcame the Warrington Wolves in the Super League Grand Final to claim the title for the fourth time in the summer era.
Shaun Wane’s men edged out the Wolves by a 12-6 scoreline, mounting a second-half comeback to defeat the League Leaders’ Shield winners in a fiercely-contested clash at Old Trafford.
The Warriors secured the victory through a late score from Josh Charnley, handing the club their first crown since 2013, while piling on the agony for the Wire, making it three trips to the Grand Final in the past five years without coming away with the trophy.
Wigan have been a dominant force in the post-season in recent years, and themselves were beaten in back-to-back years in the Grand Final by Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.
As a result, they will be confident of defending their crown, being backed in the latest Bet365 rugby betting odds at 3/1 to win the title again in 2017.
Wane’s men will have to rebuild during the off-season as their match-winner Charnley will be one of several departures. The 25-year-old made the decision to switch codes to sign for the Sale Sharks, leaving the Warriors with a void on the wing.
Dan Sarginson and Matty Smith have also left the club to join the Gold Coast Titans and St Helens respectively. Both players played integral roles in Wigan’s recent success and Wane will have to ensure that their replacements will not miss a beat to keep the club in the mix for the Super League crown.
In a bid to address the loss of those key players, one of the Warriors’ first moves was to re-sign Thomas Leuluai.
The New Zealand international played at the DW Stadium for five years before returning home to play for the New Zealand Warriors, but after three seasons in the NRL he has been lured back to offer experience in the half-back position.
Another man will be returning to the club in 2017 as Joe Burgess opted to bring his stay in the Southern Hemisphere to an end after an underwhelming season.
The 22-year-old was a star for his hometown team from 2013 to 2015, memorably scoring the winning try against Warrington in his side’s run to the Grand Final in 2014, only for them to be beaten by St Helens at Old Trafford.
He and Charnley first competed for playing time, but they then featured alongside each other in his first spell with the club. Now back at the DW Stadium, Burgess will be faced with the task of replacing his former team-mate, who performed the heroics to deliver the Warriors’ fourth crown.
Morgan Escare and Liam Forsyth will provide further depth to one of the deepest squads in the Super League, giving Wane plenty of options in light of injuries to Sam Tomkins and Dom Manfredi, with the latter expected to miss a number of matches at the start of the campaign.
Wigan have made savvy moves to keep themselves at the top of the pile, but will need their new stars to pick up where the old ones left off to ensure that they can repeat their triumph at Old Trafford in October 2017.