MATTY Peet is Wigan’s man for a connection – and this is not just about visiting schools and posing for pictures.
The Warriors’ new boss knows the tough issues the club, its players and its coaches should get involved with from walking around his hometown.
Peet may not have the fanfare, he may not have the track record at the very top but he does have what many others do not.
He is a Wigan lad, he knows how the club can represent the town after being a starry-eyed schoolboy, he knows what is going on in the area.
And top of his list of aims is making sure the Warriors play as much of a part in tackling issues as the players do tackling opponents.
Peet said: “I’ve seen the post-lockdown statistics on mental health, homelessness, poverty, drug abuse and child obesity.
“We want to make a difference on the big issues, not just opening envelopes and giving out prizes. We want to get into the tough stuff and one thing the players have mentioned is male suicide levels.
“Most know someone affected by either that or one of the other issues. They see it first hand.
O MAIS RECENTE DA LIGA DE RUGBY
“As long as I’m in charge, we’ll be smashing the community engagement side of things. It’s for us to drive that.
“Sports clubs in general can be more aware of the influence they have on their community – and the players have a lot to gain from it.
“It benefits them. Taking them out of their comfort zone, public speaking, communication skills, teamwork, by getting out there, loading up minibuses and meeting new people is almost like a team challenge.
“They get a greater sense of their responsibility and connection with the fans. If they talk about fans but they’ve never met them, it’s a throwaway term.
“But the players themselves are coming up with ideas of charities they want to get involved with.”
Peet hails from the Hindley area of Wigan and grew up idolising the likes of prop Kelvin Skerrett as he watched from the Central Park terraces.
And the class of 2022 already knows about stars of the glory days.
The understated coach, who insists the only physical change is ‘my chair’s only moved about four metres’, adicionado: “We need to use the past as fuel and tap into it as we look to write our own story.
“Not just the teams that won, the toilers and staff members over the years who all played a part in the club’s history – everyone’s got a part to play.
“Our new players from overseas and young ones who’ve played fewer than 10 games did a project recently where they presented to the rest of the squad about players from our history.
“We want to get as many past players as we can involved – just get to Wigan feeling like Wigan.
Following Cade Cust’s arrival from Australia, Wigan’s squad is together for pre-season, barring Bevan French.
The electrifying full back is committed to dazzling in Super League in 2022 but a seriously ill mother on the other side of the world takes priority at the moment.
While French deals with that, while training in New South Wales, Peet is in constant contact – and there is no pressure whatsoever.
He told SunSport: “It’s a sensitive one but I’m really comfortable and confident we’re dealing with it in the right way.
“It’s about understanding there’s a young lad at the heart of it at the end of the day. It’s not nice at all.
“People ask me, ‘Have you got a date?’ No. He knows we’re here for him and even when he comes over, he’ll need supporting and there’ll be no rush.”