Triumphant Wigan boss Matt Peet aims to emulate coaching heroes

By Sports Desk October 15, 2023

Matt Peet will aim to emulate his coaching heroes by ushering in a new era of domination after Wigan claimed their first Super League Grand Final win since 2018 with a hard-fought 10-2 victory over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford.

The 39-year-old Warriors chief capped a remarkable personal journey that started as an unpaid volunteer with the club’s academy in 2008 by master-minding their return to the sport’s summit, but maintained his job is far from done.

Instead, Manchester United fan Peet will seek inspiration from heroes such as Sir Alex Ferguson to build a sustained legacy of success at the club, and perhaps emulate the four back-to-back titles won by rivals St Helens whose reign ended in this year’s semi-finals.

“When coaches can win repeatedly and build different teams and sustain a culture, then you know they have got something special about them,” said Peet. “They are the kind of coaches that I admire and look to learn little bits from.

“I am a Manchester United fan and sitting back watching that team evolve through the late 80s and right through to the 2000s, what you saw from Sir Alex was him rebuild that team, make tough decisions when it was required, trust young players and manage players. That all comes down to leadership and culture.”

Peet was at pains to pay tribute to the players who successfully concluded a re-emergent season, a sturdy defensive display giving way to second-half dominance with the help of their opponents who saw both Adam Keighran and Tom Davies sin-binned.

Liam Marshall’s solitary try 12 minutes into the second half made the difference while the increasingly trusted boot of Harry Smith kicked a conversion and two penalties to see his side home and deny the French side a first Grand Final crown.

“You always want to build on success,” added Peet. “When people look ahead to next year, they are under-estimating some of the quality they’ve seen on the field tonight.

“Some of them will be moving on, but I want to reflect on this group of people, men, players and staff. I think we will look back on this year’s team as a special team regardless. What happens next, who knows.”

Toby King and Kai Pearce-Paul played their last games for the club in the Grand Final but Wigan’s recruitment for 2024 has raised eyebrows with Luke Thompson, Kruise Leeming, Sam Walters and the vanquished Keighran all inked in to bolster an already-impressive squad.

The first challenge for the impressive array of new faces could be a trip Down Under with Peet anxious to emulate Saints in kicking off the season with a daunting test against NRL champions Penrith Panthers.

“We want to go there,” added Peet. “I’m looking forward to it, and it will be an honour. I know the club would like to go there. This club has a great history of playing in that competition and it’s where we should be.”

Peet’s players lined up to pay tribute to their unassuming coach, with veteran captain Liam Farrell ensuring he did not escape the plaudits in the victorious dressing room after the match.

Farrell, who first tasted Grand Final success with his home-town club in 2010, revealed: “I just singled him out in the dressing room.

“He was praising everyone around him – the owner, the players, his staff members. But well and truly, he leads by example. He is a leader at the top and everyone follows him.

“He makes tough calls when they’re needed, he puts the game plan into place. He does all those one per-centers, all those extra efforts, and it is the reason we are where we are.

“It is the reason we won the Challenge Cup (last season), it’s the reason we won the League Leaders’ Shield and it’s the reason now we’re sitting here as Super League champions. He is a leader in every sense.”

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