Strikes de­rail rugby league fi­nal

Af­ter 30 years at his home­town club, the War­riors boss is aim­ing to go out with a bang in his last match in charge

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY GARETH WALKER Rugby League Cor­re­spon­dent @gareth­walker

RUGBY league fans are snub­bing to­day’s Grand Fi­nal at Old Traf­ford be­cause of fresh rail chaos.

More than 70,000 Su­per League fans are due to see Wigan lock horns with War­ring­ton in Manch­ester.

But no North­ern trains will to­day run be­tween the city and Wigan, with very few ser­vices run­ning to and from War­ring­ton. And there will be none af­ter the game as work­ers down tools for the 31st day of strikes in a dis­pute over train guards.

Wigan fan Joe Charnock said: “Many fans are go­ing to watch it in their lo­cal pub or club, it’s not worth the has­sle.” Three more 24-hour strikes on North­ern, a rugby league spon­sor, were an­nounced last night.

The rail op­er­a­tor called the ac­tion “dis­ap­point­ing”. RMT union’s Mick Cash claimed North­ern were “not in­ter­ested in mean­ing­ful talks”.

SHAUN WANE walked into Wigan at 14 years old in awe of the club, and will leave tonight with the same opin­ion.

An as­so­ci­a­tion span­ning 30 years as player, academy coach and now head coach will come to an end when Wane de­parts no mat­ter what tonight’s Grand Fi­nal re­sult against War­ring­ton Wolves at Old Traf­ford.

The 54-year-old made the de­ci­sion to step down af­ter seven years at the helm, and later this month will be­gin a con­sul­tancy role with the Scot­tish RU.

Be­fore then he has the chance to lift a third Su­per League ti­tle as coach to go along­side a Chal­lenge Cup, World

Club Chal­lenge and League Lead­ers’ Shield from his time in charge of his home­town club.

Wane said: “I never thought it would end but sadly it’s come to that.

“But I’m glad that we’ve ended it this week. I didn’t want to fin­ish last week so to fin­ish at Old Traf­ford – hope­fully as a win­ner – that’ll do for me.

“I was only 14 when I was first in­vited down to train at the club, but I was quite big for my age. I re­mem­ber there were all my he­roes be­cause I’d watched Wigan from when I was four. It was a fan­tas­tic day.

“I never thought I’d end up play­ing for them and I def­i­nitely never thought I’d be coach­ing them.”

Wane will com­bine added fo­cus on his build­ing com­pany in the town with the part-time role north of the bor­der,

But he ad­mits it will be dif­fi­cult to fill the gaps of what he de­scribes as “eight-day weeks” at Wigan.

A brief spell with Leeds at the end of his play­ing ca­reer and time away from the club al­to­gether be­fore he turned to coach­ing gave him an in­sight into life with­out Wigan, but he con­cedes it is not a prospect he is rel­ish­ing. Now as he stands with the exit door ajar, Wane has been try­ing to keep a lid on the emo­tional fac­tor that sur­rounds his de­par­ture, plus that of key play­ers Sam Tomkins (be­low), Ryan Sut­ton and John Bate­man.

Wane said: “We have to man­age that, but it’s a piece of grass, and a game of rugby we need to con­cen­trate on.

“It’s just nar­row­ing the fo­cus into what’s go­ing to win us the game. When I got the job I said it’s my dream job, and I still feel the same way.

“There’s no other job I would want, but I’ve cho­sen to re­sign for my own per­sonal rea­sons and I think I’ve done my bit for the club.

“I think I’ve done OK – I’ve im­proved the team, we’ve won things, we’ve got some good kids com­ing through, our cul­ture’s good and the guys are re­spect­ful.

“The 30 years is a long time and I was brought up 200 me­tres away from the ground so it’s in my blood.

“I’m a league man, but it was my call and I’m just go­ing to have to tough it out, that’s the way it is.”

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