Coaches are always forced to make tough decisions, sometimes ones that fans do not agree with, but Wigan coach Shaun Wane has come out and defended his decision to rest four key players – Harrison Hansen, Sam Tomkins, Sean O’Loughlin and Michael McLlorum, who played 26 minutes against the Saints – given a Challenge Cup tie is coming up soon.
With all four nursing minor knee injuries and the club not wanting any further damage, when it comes to games, the loss was Wigan’s third in four games.
“They had knocks on their knees and missed a couple of days at the start of the week,” Wane said.
“I couldn’t afford to risk them with such a short turn-around.
“That team could and should have won the game. It was two tries apiece at half-time and we bombed two tries.”
Wigan young gun Ryan Hampshire got some praise from the coach, though Wane admits that errors let his side down and that St Helens were the better side.
“I thought young Hampshire played really well,” Wane said.
“There were some good performances and a lot of pokies fun effort. But we didn’t help ourselves by turning so much ball over and giving seven penalties away in the last 20 minutes.
“Saints played out of their skin and we were nowhere near good enough.”
It was a nail-biter but a late try to Joe Greenwood, who made up for his earlier error, had Saints coach Nathan Brown pleased.
“Joe had an unhappy start to the game and the early part of the second half wasn’t great for him. We put him back out there and he rewarded his team-mates for the faith they had in him,” said Brown.
“He’s a young kid who has a long way to go but he’s definitely a lot of talent.
“I thought our defence was as good as it’s been at any stage this year. We hung in there, it was a good result. The boys showed good character.
“After we dropped the ball over the line and they scored, we defended our line for a long period and I suppose that was the difference in the game. It was by far our best performance to date.”