License To Thrill: How Patient Peet Has Brought Wigan Back To Life


Matty who?

The Wigan Warriors have always promoted from within, boasting a treadmill of young talent the envy of British football.

Yet when the decision was made last October to appoint Matty Peet as the famed rugby club’s new head coach, a few eyebrows were raised over their ambitions.

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The response was more emphatic than Wigan could have contemplated.

After winning the Betfred Challenge Cup in May, Peet is now 80 minutes away from leading his side to the Super League Grand Final.

« We knew people were going to frown when we announced it, » admitted Kris Radlinski, Wigan chief executive and club legend, last February.

« But we stand by our judgment and what we have seen for many years. »

Much like his mentor Shaun Wane, Peet, 38, came through the ranks at Wigan, and was part of the Cherry and White Furniture for over 13 years, from the academy to the first team.

The Warriors academy have won six of the seven Grand Finals they have appeared in, and Peet only sees Leeds Rhinos between the senior side and another Grand Final in his first season in charge.

« Salford and Leeds are probably the two in-form teams, it’s the Leeds we were expecting at the start of the year, » he said.

“Their workforce has nothing to envy to that of the Super League.

“It took them a while to find their form, but now that they have, they are very dangerous. They adhere to the style and philosophy that Rohan (Smith) brought.”

Much of Peet’s work and the changes he has implemented this year has been behind the scenes. With a focus on culture, he set out to instill values ​​of honesty, trust and hard work, and to make the club a place where players feel happy. He achieved this by creating bonds and connections, placing as much importance on his personal relationships as on what his players do for the team on the pitch.

« The beliefs that Matty instilled created a very nice environment, » says fullback Jai Field, who credits Peet for bringing out the best form of his career.

The Aussie was shortlisted for the prestigious Steve Prescott Man Of Steel Award, with 24 tries and 20 assists this season which also earned his manager the Coach of the Year award.

« When you’re happy off the pitch, you give your best and it shows right now, » he says.

Every head coach needs the support of a good right-hand man, and lowly Peet admits he’s lucky to have two of the best.

Lee Briers was one of the stories of the season, salvaged from the rugby league scrap heap last season when he was dumped by his lifelong club Warrington, the Wolves legend revitalized the Warriors attack and earned his own dream of becoming an NRL coach next season.

Briers says Wigan, and Peet in particular, helped him find his « spark ».

“Culture is live,” he says. « Every day. Be good people, respectful, work hard and have the confidence to make your opinion count.”

Club legend Sean O’Loughlin completes the trinity of coaches, their former captain winning four Grand Finals with the Warriors between 2010 and 2018.

On the court, Peet’s laid-back, thoughtful demeanor allowed stars Field and Bevan French to thrive.

Their partnership has been devastating, and perhaps the biggest reason many believe this Wigan side can go all the way and prevent rivals St Helens from making history with a fourth straight triumph at Old Trafford. .

It would also be the dream farewell for Briers ahead of their Aussie adventure, but first they need to beat a Rhinos side that crushed them at Headingley in July.

Wigan will be particularly wary of former full-back Zak Hardaker, sacked by the club as part of Peet’s cultural campaign, and taken over by his former club Leeds with whom he is thriving again.

The Rhinos are expecting their biggest away crowd of the season for this game which will end one team’s season and propel the other to the Grand Final. And Peet is wary of turning the game at DW Stadium into an away game unless Warriors fans are fighting fire with fire.

« A few years ago when Salford came here for a semi-final their fans turned the game into a home game, but I have a feeling our fans won’t let that happen this week, » says -he.

“If it’s a last-second win, I think the fans can make the difference.

“We come in confident, just like Leeds. It should be a fantastic game.”

Wigan Warriors are 13/8 to win the Grand Final with Betfred*.

*18+ BeGambleAware Odds subject to change

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