14 October 2023

Thank you – Matt Peet grateful for Jake Wardle after impressive final display

14 October 2023

Coach Matt Peet hailed game-breaker Jake Wardle as “awesome” after his starring role in Wigan’s Betfred Super League Grand Final success.

The centre capped a memorable first season with the club with a player-of-the-match display as the Warriors edged a tight tussle with Catalans Dragons 10-2 to be crowned champions at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Wardle made a number of telling breaks in the second half including one to set up the decisive try for Liam Marshall.

It is a far cry from last year when Wardle struggled for game time at Huddersfield and was loaned out to Warrington.

“He was awesome,” said Peet. “What I say to him is ‘thank you’. I’m really grateful for him trusting us and coming to Wigan. I’m really thankful for how he applies himself daily.

“I am not more proud of him because we won tonight – we love him daily. I’m really pleased for him to have his moment. That’s why we signed him and that’s why he chose us.”

Wardle, 24, showed similar gratitude to Peet for putting faith in him.

He said: “It is a really proud moment for me and my family. I am really grateful to Wigan and Matty for giving me the opportunity to come to the club and play in games like that.”

The encounter was tight with the scores locked at 2-2 at half-time.

Peet praised his side for limiting Catalans’ creative options.

“It was very much about our defence,” he said. “We had a few areas where we thought Catalans would have a bit of joy.

“We spoke about the importance of defending kicks and it was a recap on our message of recent months, which comes back to trusting one another and trusting the gameplan.

“I thought it was a good advert for us trusting one another.”

Wigan’s victory secured their first Super League title since 2018 and ended St Helens’ run of four successive triumphs.

Peet would not be drawn on whether his side could now go on to establish a dynasty.

He said: “You always want to build on success but when people are looking ahead to next year they are underestimating the quality on the field tonight. This will be reflected upon as a special group of players.”

Catalans’ defeat was their second in a Grand Final in the space of three years and denied them a maiden title.

It also meant there would be no fairytale ending to former Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins’ glittering career.

The Dragons had finished level on points with Wigan at the end of the regular season and coach Steve McNamara admitted the loss – in which they had two players sin-binned – was hard to take.

He said: “It was a huge tussle. It was not a great spectacle of a game but two teams were going at each other ferociously for 80 minutes.

“To concede one try and get beaten is tough to take. We didn’t throw enough at the opposition in attack but some of that was down to the fact we spent 20 minutes with 12 men.

“That probably took too much out of us but in the second half I don’t think we had one good attacking set and that’s probably credit to Wigan.

“Our last plays have been good all season but they weren’t good enough tonight. Last plays win big games.”

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