Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet gave a glowing tribute to owner Ian Lenagan following their Grand Final triumph last night, with the chief bowing out on a high to end his 16-year reign at the helm.
Lenagan’s departure from the club at the end of the year was announced back in July, with another local businessman in Mike Danson – who already owns Wigan Athletic Football Club and has a minority share in the Warriors – taking full control on December 1.
Ahead of the Grand Final against Catalans Dragons, the chief – for the first time – spoke publicly about the health woes he’d experienced over the last few years, with a stroke which occurred during the COVID-19 Pandemic still affecting him now.
Much of the pre-match talk was about Wigan ‘doing it for Ian’, and they did just that, their 10-2 triumph earning the club’s fifth Super League title of the ‘Lenagan era’, sixth overall, and a first since 2018 having been beaten in 2020 by bitter rivals St Helens.
Wigan Warriors boss Matt Peet lauds outgoing owner Ian Lenagan
Boss Peet knows the stalwart well, associated with the club for the last 15 years himself, progressing through the ranks as an academy coach before getting into the first-team set-up as an assistant and then being handed the main job ahead of 2022.
Asked to sum up owner Lenagan post-match at Old Trafford, he responded: “It’s hard to summarise, but I think for us to get the win tonight for him is fitting.
“The thing that he tried to instil, or that he did instil, in the build-up to 2010 (the first of the five Grand Final wins) – and it took him a couple of years to first get the club ticking – was a winning culture. That’s what he wanted, and that has so many things that underpin it.
“I suppose it’s about how you do everything within your club, not just how you play your game. During his tenure, he’s led the club through some good times and some tough times as well. He’s mentioned this week about those COVID times, and one thing I’ve learnt from watching him as a leader is exactly how you lead during tough times.
“I’ve got so much admiration for him, and I hope he enjoys this victory because he certainly deserves it. Him and his family have made so much sacrifice for this club, not just the finances but you can imagine the time, the commitment and the sleepless nights.
“Hopefully, we’ve left him with a great memory tonight. The players have spoken quite a bit this week, and just then made a presentation to him, the best way I can think of to summarise him is ‘one of the team’.
“He’s been supportive right through my time at the club. He obviously gave me this opportunity and trusted me, and throughout that time he’s been the same. He challenges me to a very high level, and he’s been very demanding but Ian is very supportive.”