How Matt Peet's Wigan conquered the rugby league world in 66 games

In less than three seasons as head coach, Matt Peet has won the Grand Final, Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and World Club Challenge. So, just how did the Wigan native do it?

Peet's meteoric rise: How did he make it to the top?

Barely three seasons in charge at Wigan Warriors, and the four trophies on offer for Matt Peet have been won.

To put into context, it is like winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup Final in fewer than three seasons at one club. That is a feat only completed by Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, and Jurgen Klopp.

Peet's rise to the top of the sport was very much an unconventional one, with the Wigan head coach having never played professional rugby league.

While experience on the pitch is often seen as a key tenet for head coaches across sport, Peet is the newest example that game knowledge and player management can be built from more than having played the sport at the highest level.

To understand the 39-year-old's coaching career is to understand his connection to the town he grew up in.

A born-and-bred Wigan lad, Peet was raised in a family which had an obsession with Wigan Warriors and was raised to idolise the teams he watched at Central Park.

Coming from a northern rugby league town, Peet played the sport at amateur level, but once he realised a professional contract was not on the cards, he turned his attention elsewhere.

After completing an English degree at Manchester Metropolitan University, Peet began his coaching ascent.

Volunteer work at his local club Westhoughton Lions turned into helping with Wigan's reserve side 13 years ago.

His hard work and passion for the job saw Peet move up the ranks at the Warriors, becoming the head of youth and, after a short move to rugby union with Sale Sharks as their head of performance, Peet returned to his boyhood club as assistant coach.

Four years later, he was at the golden gate: He was offered the job of head coach of Wigan Warriors...

The rookie year: One trophy down, three to go!

If you speak to most new head coaches, if they could secure one thing in their first season in charge, it would be a trophy and Peet got just that.

Although his side were knocked out in the semi-finals on their hunt for a Grand Final win, rivals St Helens eventually taking the spoils against Leeds Rhinos, Peet had joy in the summer as his side lifted the Challenge Cup.

With the Challenge Cup at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as a one-off, Peet's side sealed victory with a last-gasp try from Liam Marshall, crossing in the 77th minute to beat Huddersfield Giants 16-14.

As a child, Peet was one of the thousands from the town who would make what was then the annual pilgrimage to Wembley at a time when Wigan lifted the Challenge Cup for an unprecedented eight years running.

The 20-14 victory over Widnes in 1993 and Martin Offiah's iconic length-of-the-field try as Wigan overcame Leeds 26-16 the following year are the memories which stood out in particular for Peet, not to mention the post-match celebrations on the bus home.

Now, Peet got to experience those celebrations in the changing rooms, with his players, as a Challenge Cup-winning head coach...

The 'sophmore season': One to remember as Wigan claim Grand Final glory

Peet's second year in charge of Wigan proved even more profitable than the first, 24 wins and just eight losses across the Super League season proving why his side were becoming the team people needed and wanted to beat.

Wigan clinched the League Leaders' Shield on the final day of the regular season, beating out Catalans Dragons and St Helens on point difference to add the second tick to Peet's trophy list.

Then, the big moment arrived: A shot for glory at the big dance at Old Trafford.

It was Wigan's first chance to claim the trophy since 2018 and Peet's side made it count, with a Marshall try and two Harry Smith penalties clinching a 10-2 victory over the Dragons.

"It feels good and it's been a long time coming. Myself and Rads [chief executive Kris Radlinski] started talking about what we wanted to achieve over the next few years a couple of years ago, and we're building," Peet said after the match.

"We've got a special group of players, a special club from top to bottom, and I'm proud of everyone in the environment."

Peet had reached the summit of Super League and with that, he earned the chance to play the best from the other side of the world...

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: The World Club Challenge

The World Club Challenge sees the champions of the Super League take on the NRL victors to be crowned champions of world rugby league.

Think of it as the Champions League of rugby league, the best of one country's competition facing off against the best of another. It is Manchester City vs Inter Milan. It is Liverpool vs Real Madrid. It is Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-Germain.

Penrith Panthers, NRL champions for the past three seasons running, travelled over to face Peet's Wigan.

Australia's best side came over hungry for a win after losing to St Helens by a dramatic golden-point drop-goal in their own backyard.

So, Peet's outfit were facing a formidable side with a point to prove.

On Saturday February 24, Wigan Warriors held off the Panthers for a 16-12 win and to officially put themselves on top of the world.

Peet's side showed some incredible fortitiude in defence as of the 29 minutes and 52 seconds Penrith had the ball in the match, nearly 17 minutes of that was spent in Wigan's territory.

Did the match have controversial moments? Undoubtedly. Was the match decided by them? No.

Wigan earned the right to call themselves world champions with the sheer effort they showed and Peet ticked the final box on his trophy list, just 66 games into his tenure.

"It is a huge boost for Super League and for English rugby league, but for this club, they're probably right at the top of the pile for what they do on and off the field," said Sky Sports Rugby League pundit and Wigan legend Sam Tomkins.

"We saw a classic Wigan Warriors DNA game - they're a tough team."

So, what is the Wigan Warriors DNA?

Farrell: He is the reason we are where we are

The respect for Peet within the Wigan club is unrivalled and nothing shows how pivotal he is to the side's success than what their captain had to say after their Grand Final triumph last year.

"He was praising everyone around him - the owner, the players, his staff members - but well and truly, he leads by example," Farrell said. "He is a leader at the top and everyone follows him.

"He makes tough calls when they're needed, he puts the game plan into place. He does all those one-percenters, all those extra efforts, and it is the reason we are where we are.

"It is the reason we won the Challenge Cup, it's the reason we won the League Leaders' Shield and it's the reason now we're sitting here as Super League champions. He is a leader in every sense."

Carney: Peet's support of Marshall shows Wigan culture

There is many an anecdote about Peet and his involvement with the community and care for his players, but in the week of the World Club Challenge, there was another shining example.

Marshall, a player Peet has coached since his academy days, recently lost his mother and in the week of the match, Peet and the whole squad attended the funeral.

"I was told in the week, sadly Liam Marshall, the Wigan winger's mother Debbie passed away and she was buried on Sunday," Brian Carney said on Sky Sports' Super League coverage.

"The Wigan squad were there entirely and brought together by Matt Peet.

"He gathered them together outside the church afterwards, discretely, and said, 'Boys, we have got a big week ahead of us but we will do nothing this week that will match what we have done for a team-mate of ours'.

"It is an insight into Matt Peet.

"You have got a group of players at Wigan that will do anything for their coach."

Matt Peet's Wigan: Key stats

Super League: 58 matches, 41 wins, 17 losses

Challenge Cup: Seven matches, Six wins, one loss, Champions 2022

World Club Challenge:

Wigan Warriors

Penrith Panthers







Possession %



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Line breaks



Set completion %



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Winning all four trophies on offer once is sensational. What Matt Peet does from here is what becomes the stuff of legend....

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