Wigan coach Adrian Lam hailed the try scoring heroics of winger Jake Bibby but was more delighted for centre Willie Isa, who made his 150th appearance for the club in the 34-6 win over Wakefield.
Bibby scored his first Super League hat-trick and took his try tally in the first two games to five as the Warriors overcame another sluggish start in style by scoring 34 unanswered points.
Lam was forced to play Isa and fellow second rower Liam Farrell in the centre spots in the absence of five outside backs and both men made valuable contributions to the victory, with the coach revealing the players were determined to mark Isa’s landmark appearance in a fitting fashion.
“The whole performance tonight was set up around making sure we got the win for him to reward him for his time so far at the club,” Lam said.
“Willie’s been promoted into our leadership group this week. He was selected by his peers which says everything about him.
“For me as a coach Willie’s the ultimate professional in every part of his preparation. He’s a really popular member of the group – he’s like a father to some of them – and for me he’s that player you need in your front line with you going to war.”
Wakefield coach Chris Chester was disappointed with his team’s second-half collapse and angry that a high tackle by Isa on winger Tom Johnstone went unpunished.
Johnstone, who showed his class with two long-range tries in Wakefield’s opening defeat by Leeds, had plenty of early touches but he was forced off with a head knock after 28 minutes and never returned.
“Losing Tom didn’t help,” Chester said. “We had to put young James Batchelor out there.
“I thought something should have been done at the time. It was a high tackle and, because it wasn’t put up as foul play, we lost a substitution.
“I’m not sure why it’s not been picked up when we’ve got all these camera angles. There was contact on the head.
“But that’s not cost us the game, the start to the second half cost us the game.
“We had some real good control first 40 minutes. I thought we dominated field position.
“But we don’t compete hard enough for long enough and our end of sets really let us down. We didn’t kick the ball well and we’re in trouble when we’ve got Dave Fifita and Joe Westerman kicking on the last tackle.
“The second 40 minutes is not good enough. We’ve got to work harder for 80 minutes. We didn’t match that energy that Wigan came at us.”
Lam does not expect Isa to face any repercussions for the challenge on Johnstone.
“The ref had an opportunity to put it on report and give them a penalty,” he said. “I wasn’t sure it was that bad.”
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