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Three unsung heroes of Wigan Rugby League Club's success

Wigan is a great rugby league name. The Warriors, in their famous cherry and white colours, were the sport's dominant force throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, making Wembley a second home as they made the Challenge Cup their own.

With great players such as Martin Offiah, Shaun Edwards and Joe Lydon helping the club win the Challenge Cup eight seasons in a row between 1988 and 1995, and also took seven league titles and three World Club Championships back to their then-ground, Central Park.

Fans are hopeful that those glory days could be on their way back to the club, after the Warriors, with Australian coach Michael Maguire at the helm, won the Grand Final in 2010 and won at Wembley again to win the Challenge Cup in 2011.

Many have observers have pointed to the inspired skills of Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin's ongoing mastery of the loose forward position as key reasons for the Warriors' success, but there are three other players without whom the Warriors would not have reached the heights of the last two years.

One of these is prop forward Andy Coley. The veteran forward has been lion-hearted during thre 2011 season, going about the dirty work of the front row with quietly spoken relish and aggression. Not a man to take a backward step, Coley's courage and honesty has been a nice contrast to the more controversial and conspicuous Jeff Lima during Super League XVI.

Brett Finch is too big a star to really be an 'unsung' hero, but with the likes of Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai around, it can be hard to attract attention. Finch is a tough competitor though with a fierce will to win. His real strength at half-back is organisation, but he has great ball handling skills as well.

Finch's effort is impressive, for a relatively small man his tackling is immense, and the personal example of commitment he sets to his team-mates. With his competitive instinct honed by experience in the NRL, he could yet add another Grand Final winners' medal or two to his collection with a contract at the club which runs through to the end of 2012.

A third hero is Joel Tomkins. Although the young back-rower has received some plaudits for the accomplished way in which he has handled a switch from second-rwo to centre this season, his impact still seems to have been underestimated.

His penchant for running the length of the field to notch spectacular tries in crunch games has been seen on a number of occasions during the 2011 campaign, not least his try for the England team in their mid-season international against the Exiles.

But he also does the unspectacular parts of the job well, rarely missing a tackle, and the indiscipline which has blighted his game in recent seasons seems to have diminished. Reliable rather than mercurial, Sam's brother has cemented himself into the Warriors' first choice line-up as effectively as his more celebrated sibling.

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