Wigan chairman praises Noble
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has paid tribute to coach Brian Noble, but refused to offer any assurances about his future.
Last Updated: 03/05/09 1:33pm
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan praised coach Brian Noble following Saturday's 38-18 victory over St Helens at Murrayfield, but stopped short of offering assurances about his future.
The Warriors' biggest derby win for six years lifted the immediate pressure on Noble, whose contract at the JJB Stadium expires at the end of the season.
Noble's former club Bradford last week dismissed speculation linking him with a return to Grattan Odsal.
Lenagan, however, refused to clarify his coach's position, saying: "I have no comment to make. That would be stupid after a great performance.
"The position with Brian is exactly the same position as it's always been.
"As far as Wigan are concerned, we have a great respect for what he does. Last night showed the best of Brian Noble and I'm delighted with that."
Winger Pat Richards contributed 22 points with two tries and seven goals as Wigan posted a first win over their arch rivals since Lenagan succeeded Maurice Lindsay as chairman in 2007.
"It's been a long time coming," admitted Lenagan. "I thought we beat them in every aspect of the game.
"St Helens are a difficult team to beat, even when they're not playing well. They don't sit at the top of the table for no reason."
Noble appeared to take a gamble by dropping teenage wing sensation Shaun Ainscough after scoring four tries in last week's win at Wakefield but the move paid off handsomely as the Warriors ran Saints ragged with six sparkling tries.
"Brian is a great strategist," added Lenagan. "He has got many, many years of experience.
"Whilst people gulped at the thought of the guy who has scored 17 tries not playing, Brian had excellent reasons for choosing the team he selected. There is no greater proof than the pudding.
"Brian shares with me his thoughts but he picks the team and he should get all the commendations that are due to him for putting together a team that was well able to beat St Helens."
Ainscough, who has scored his 17 tries in just 10 senior appearances, admits he will find it difficult to force his way back into the Wigan team.
"Everyone played good so I think it will be tough to get back in," he said. "But I'll train hard and, if I play 21s, I will have to show that I can be in there.
"I'm still learning at the minute and picking something up every time I watch games or train."
Wigan still trail St Helens by six points but Lenagan believes their vastly improved form makes them genuine outside title candidates.
"Brian traditionally has teams that perform better in the second half of the season," he said.
"Will we get in a high enough position to enable us to make a serious challenge for the play-offs? I hope we can and I think our performances of the last three weeks have begun to show that it's a possibility."