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Matt Peet: Wigan Warriors’ hometown hero bringing the glory days back to the Super League club | Rugby League News


Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet has gone from childhood Cherry and Whites fan fan to Betfred Super League Grand Final-winning head coach, but has no intention of stopping there; Saturday’s 10-2 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford came in only his second season in charge

Last Updated: 16/10/23 9:50pm

Matt Peet celebrates with Wigan's fans following the Super League Grand Final triumph

Matt Peet celebrates with Wigan’s fans following the Super League Grand Final triumph

Matt Peet was a 14-year-old Wigan Warriors fan when he watched the Cherry and Whites triumph 10-4 over Leeds Rhinos in the first Super League Grand Final in 1998.

Little did he imagine, a quarter of a century later, he would be overseeing his hometown club at Old Trafford as they lifted the title for the sixth time with a 10-2 victory over Catalans Dragons.

As a player, Peet’s rugby league achievements did not extend beyond community level. It is as a coach where he has made his mark on the sport though, starting at Westhoughton and Wigan St Patricks followed by working his way up the ranks with the town’s professional club.

His journey from volunteer, academy coach, head of youth, and first-team assistant to the top job was completed when he was named Adrian Lam’s successor in late 2021. In his first two seasons in charge, he has delivered the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and now a first Grand Final win since 2018 to the DW Stadium.

“The difference with this you can enjoy it for a while,” Peet said, reflecting on a whirlwind two years at the helm in the wake of the victory over Catalans. “The Challenge Cup comes thick and fast, and we had a game the week after.

“It’s probably only at the end of the season you stop and reflect, and this one finishes the season on a high note.

“We’ve achieved our ambition, the players set out that’s what they wanted to do, and they’ve gone out and done it.”

Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between the Wigan Warriors and the Catalans Dragons.

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Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between the Wigan Warriors and the Catalans Dragons.

Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between the Wigan Warriors and the Catalans Dragons.

True to form, Peet was quick to deflect all of the praise for the Grand Final triumph onto his players and was eager to thank both chief executive Kris Radlinksi and outgoing Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan for giving him the opportunity to lead the team in the first place.

Warriors captain Liam Farrell was keen to highlight his coach’s contribution to the success the team have enjoyed over the past two seasons though, doing so to his team-mates in the Old Trafford changing rooms as they celebrated.

“He was praising everyone around him – the owner, the players, his staff members – but well and truly, he leads by example,” Farrell said. “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-percenters, all those extra efforts, and it is the reason we are where we are.

“It is the reason we won the Challenge Cup, 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.”

That is not to say there have not been bumps along the way. Wigan’s Grand Final hopes last year were ended by a surprise semi-final defeat at home to Leeds Rhinos, while they relinquished their hold on the Challenge Cup after being beaten in golden point by Hull Kingston Rovers in the semis in July.

Each time though, the Warriors have responded and Peet hails that ability to learn from setbacks as one of the key components of the success they have enjoyed so far in his reign.

“There are things along the way which haven’t gone to plan, and we’ve learnt from it, which is important we keep doing,” Peet said. “That’s the best way I can repay the trust people have put in me.

Matt Peet says Wigan Warriors'  Super League triumph has been 'a long time coming' after they won the Grand Final against Catalans Dragons.

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Matt Peet says Wigan Warriors’ Super League triumph has been ‘a long time coming’ after they won the Grand Final against Catalans Dragons.

Matt Peet says Wigan Warriors’ Super League triumph has been ‘a long time coming’ after they won the Grand Final against Catalans Dragons.

“Hopefully, everyone feels connected to the victory. Everyone across the club has got to be savouring this one.”

Peet makes no secret of the fact he feels more relaxed during the big games than the week-to-week regular-season matches, and he and his team may have another one to look forward to early in 2024 in the shape of a World Club Challenge clash with Australian champions Penrith Panthers.

As a lifelong Wigan supporter, the 39-year-old will be fully aware of the Warriors’ history in the match which stretches back to Wigan’s 8-2 victory over Manly in the first officially recognised World Club Challenge encounter in 1987.

Emulating what great rivals St Helens did earlier this year and securing a victory over the Panthers, who have now won three NRL titles in a row following their recent Grand Final win over Brisbane Broncos, would be the perfect way for Peet’s side to cement themselves as a dynasty in the making.

Matt Peet admits he has already thought about Wigan facing Penrith in the World Cup Challenge

Matt Peet admits he has already thought about Wigan facing Penrith in the World Cup Challenge

“It’s something I’ve thought about in great detail,” Peet said. “It’s an exciting reward and a great challenge for this club.

“It’s the kind of game this club wants to be associated with and it would be fantastic to play Penrith and wherever it would be played we’ll enjoy it.

“What’s important is we continue to learn. We’ve got a young group and a hungry group, and we have to keep that.

“We’ve got to keep building and we’ve got to keep learning, and that goes for the staff as well as the players.”





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