Shaun Wane saluted the departing Pat Richards as the goal kicker helped Wigan Warriors hold on at the top of Super League in a tense battle at Hull F.C.
Richards kicked six goals in the 20-28 win on the day he announced he is returning to the NRL at the end of the season after an eight-year stay at Wigan.
He becomes the third Warrior in a week to announce his departure but still added two vital second half penalties to keep Wigan in front.
“Pat told me a couple of weeks ago but I admire him,” said Wane.
“He’s a good man and what a lot of people don’t know is that behind the scenes he does a lot for the team. He is an outstanding individual and I wanted to give him another contract but his mind was set.
“I wasn’t going to push him that hard – but I did push him.
“His kids are getting to ages where they are trying to get them in certain schools in Australia, I’ve had kids and I know what it’s like.”
Wigan opened the scoring with Iain Thornley in the 13th minute before Sam Tomkins, who could become Wigan’s fourth NRL-bound player this year, boosted the lead two minutes later.
But Hull struck back with the first of a Tom Lineham hat-trick after 22 minutes and a Ben Crooks try to bring them to within two points on the stroke of half time.
It took another quick double to put Wigan in command when Josh Charnley and Tomkins struck in consecutive sets seven minutes after the restart but Hull still rallied.
Lineham completed a hat-trick as the home side scored a quick double of their own on the hour before Richards’ steady boot snatched the points for Wigan.
“Our players expected that, I expected that and I knew they were never going to go away,” said Wane.
“As a team we never felt like the game was won and it felt that way.
“It was what we needed – a real tough game and we got one today.”
Image courtesy of Super League TV, via YouTube, with thanks