Maguire puts faith in NRL recruits - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maguire puts faith in NRL recruits

Ben Baker 11/02/2011 02:29:24 PM Comments (0)

Michael Maguire has insisted his new NRL imports can help champions Wigan Warriors raise the bar as they look to retain their Super League crown.

The former Melbourne Storm assistant coach ended the Cherry and Whites' 12-year wait for their second Grand Final victory with a 22-10 defeat of arch-rivals St Helens last season.

Despite Wigan boasting the 2010 young player of the year and Man of Steel in their ranks in Sam Tomkins and ex-Wests Tigers winger Pat Richards respectively, Maguire has returned to the Storm for the high-profile signings of Brett Finch, Jeff Lima and Ryan Hoffman.

Finch will sit out the opening weeks of the season with a neck injury and misses the 'Magic' weekend opener, which sees all seven first-round league matches take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, against St Helens.

Former Wests Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons has taken over at the Saints but Maguire is convinced Wigan's new blood will only make his side stronger.

"We did well last year but now we want to improve again and make sure we are performing well consistently," said Maguire.

"We are very lucky with the guys we have brought in with Jeff, Ryan and Brett as they have bought their own style and quality to the squad, settled in well and already added a lot.

"They are really helpful on the training pitch and if the young lads learn from them then that can only be a positive for us and if we can keep that blend of youth and experience going that will be great.

"We are very lucky that everyone who came on board over the winter saw that we are working hard and all of the players, from both hemispheres, are desperate for success."

Former Sydney Roosters star Craig Fitzgibbon believes Hull team-mate and former Great Britain scrum-half Sean Long can return to top form despite relieving him of the captaincy duties.

Fitzgibbon is no stranger to the armband having led the Roosters from 2006 until he departed for England a year ago.

But the powerhouse forward, who won 19 caps for the Kangaroos, maintains Long could be the key to their season as they begin with a derby clash against Hull KR.

"We have become pretty close since I arrived last year," Fitzgibbon said. "We are definitely mates and quite similar characters in many ways.

"He had a horrible time last year with injuries. We wanted to take the pressure off him so I got the captaincy.

"We just want him to focus on playing -- he's a quality performer and we want to do everything we can to get the best out of him. If he stays fit that will be fantastic for us."

Meanwhile disgraced Canberra centre Joel Monaghan begins life at Warrington after he called time on his Raiders career following the publication of a lewd photograph.

Monaghan will be joined in the Wolves team to face Huddersfield by former Wests full-back Brett Hodgson, who gets an immediate chance to show the Giants what they will miss this season after his close-season switch.

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