Adrian Lam needs a major trophy.
After the farce surrounding Shaun Edwards’ appointment at Wigan – when he performed a U-turn and decided against returning to his hometown club – Adrian Lam is now in his third season at the DW Stadium.
Lam was supposed to be keeping the seat warm for Edwards during the 2019 season only but remained in position last year and his reign has continued into a third campaign.
Crucially, Lam has yet to lift a major trophy as head coach of Wigan Warriors.
It feels a bit like Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at Manchester United – hugely popular as a player but perhaps yet to fully convince since returning as boss.
Or at least yet to translate rich promise into tangible returns.
Lam’s first season saw the Warriors dumped out of the Challenge Cup by Warrington Wolves and then humbled on their own turf by Salford Red Devils in the Super League play-offs.
The 2020 campaign saw Lam’s fall short again when it mattered most, losing to Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and then suffering a heartbreaking loss to St Helens in the Grand Final.
Wigan claimed the League Leaders’ Shield last term and have progressed nicely under Lam.
But he needs to deliver a piece of major silverware to a club which exists simply to win trophies.
Nothing less will surely do.
Wigan have won the Challenge Cup a record 19 times but not since 2013, so lifting a trophy that Lam won as a Warriors player in 2002 would signify major progress.
Overcoming Hull this weekend will take some doing, but victory would leave Lam’s men 80 minutes from Wembley.
After six wins in all competitions this season, Wigan have yet to hit top gear.
Perhaps this weekend’s huge game could be their time.
Chance to banish bad news of Clubb ban
The sport of rugby league has made the news for all the wrong reasons this week when Tony Clubb was handed an eight-game ban for aiming a racist comment at Hull FC’s Andre Savelio.
The ugly incident was a sour note amid a competitive Super League game last Thursday which the Warriors edged 16-14.
Hull coach Brett Hodgson, normally such a mild-mannered character, was almost beside himself when asked about the length of Clubb’s ban this week.
Not for him the kind of diplomatic clichés which characterise so many pre-match press conferences.
“It is never OK for racism to be in society or sport,” Hodgson said.
“The eight-week suspension is, in my opinion, too lenient.
“The fact is there was an opportunity to send a clear message and I want to stress this is my opinion.
“I feel strongly that the way Andre has held himself, he's held himself really well at this tough time.”
There is no doubt the incident will be much talked about before Saturday’s showdown between the sides.
But it is also an opportunity for stars such as Jackson Hastings and Josh Reynolds, the respective playmakers, to take centre stage.
It has all the makings of another classic Challenge Cup tie between two big ambitious club who have history in this competition.
Dom Manfredi finally back in the fold?
Traumatic does not even begin to do justice to Dom Manfredi’s battle with injuries during the past few seasons.
The highly-regarded winger has undergone three knee reconstructions in just five years and has yet to play this season due to a thumb injury.
His last appearance came last November but he has been included in Wigan’s squad to face Hull FC this weekend.
Could he make the 17 against Brett Hodgson’s side?
You would have your doubts.
It is a huge game to throw him back into and Jake Bibby and Bevan French have been doing the business on the flanks.
One option would be to put Bibby in the centres, opening the door for Manfredi to take a wing spot.
If not this week, then Manfredi’s time to shine could soon arrive.
Chance for youngsters to step up in the pack
Adrian Lam’s young guns stepping up to the mark has become a theme at Wigan.
Their outstanding academy system has harvested countless homegrown products who have thrived at first-team level.
With Tony Clubb banned for the next eight games, the onus will again be on Lam’s young forwards to make light of his absence.
Ethan Havard, Morgan Smithies and Oliver Partington have become established members of the Wigan first-team.
All three played for England at Academy level, all were named in the latest England Knights squad and are now thriving on the Super League stage.
Liam Byrne and Joe Bullock have also impressed in Wigan’s notoriously aggressive pack along with Joe Shorrocks.
With Clubb missing for the next two months, Lam will look to his young, hungry forwards to continue stepping up to the mark – starting this weekend against Hull.