Raw emotions inspire Wigan Warriors' latest Challenge Cup exploits

Wigan head coach Matt Peet revealed the raw emotion that underpinned his side’s second Betfred Challenge Cup win in three years after tries from Zach Eckersley, Bevan French and Liam Farrell saw them sink Warrington 18-8 at Wembley.

The moving build-up to the final following the death of Rob Burrow last Sunday triggered personal memories for number of Wigan players, including man-of-the-match French, whose mother also died from Motor Neurone Disease in 2022. Winger Liam Marshall lost his mother in February, one day after greeting his new baby daughter, while Peet’s Warrington counterpart Sam Burgess is only too aware of the devastating impact of MND having lost his father Mark to the disease.

Peet said: “It was a special final in its own right for which ever team won it. It’s been an emotional week because Rob was such a special character, and it stirs up emotions for everyone. I’m sure it stirred up emotions for Bevan, for Liam Marshall and for Sam Burgess. We all love Rob Burrow and his family but we’ve got be honest, it also makes you think about your own situation and your own family, and the people you love.”

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Peet refused to expand on the personal reason why he considered his side’s win the best achievement of a short and incredibly successful coaching career, with Wigan now only the third team in history to hold all four major trophies at the same time. But he hailed the mentality of his squad for delivering the performance he expected, with the outcome of the game scarcely in doubt once Eckersley, making only his fifth appearance for the club in place of the suspended Adam Keighran, crossed for the opening try.

“We talk a lot about chasing perfection but it was never going to be the perfect game,” added Peet. “It was about trusting each other and coping with the ebbs and flows of the game. I feel the strength of this group is their ability to deal with whatever comes along. When things are against them they almost seem to rise to the challenge. Our motivation was achieving something that is not unprecedented but is particularly special, putting that fourth trophy in the cabinet. I think this group of players are motivated by what they can achieve and the memories they can make together.”

Peet reserved special praise for his captain Farrell, who marked another trademark performance by surging over for his side’s third and final try midway through the second half that effectively ended Warrington’s slim hopes of muscling back into the match.

“Sometimes Liam’s achievements can go noticed,” added Peet. “There have been some good back-rowers in Super League over the last 10 or 15 years, but in terms of success and playing in big games, I think Faz takes some beating.”