0 Wigan Warriors - Monk in the habit!

Wigan Warriors play all their home matches at Wigan FC's DW Stadium, but have their own training ground. The Warriors High Performance Training Centre is situated at the Wigan Laundry Company Community Stadium, Orrell, which is the former home of the Orrell Rugby Union Club.

The clubhouse has been transformed into a £2 million state-of-the-art training centre where the first team train and the U20 and U18 academy teams also play their home matches.

The facility was kitted out in the close season of 2006, with the players moving in full time in early February 2007. The centre is the best in Super League Rugby and provides an all year round base for the club away from the DW Stadium.

The complex houses a multi-functional gym, combat zone and changing rooms. There is also a fully equipped medical room and even a plunge pool and jacuzzi to aid player recovery.

Also located onsite is a video room where players and coaching staff preview and review opponents, a comfortable players lounge to relax, coaches offices, as well as a dining room with kitchen where the players' specialist dietary plans and menus are prepared and served.

The main pitch is floodlit and, arguably, offers a better playing surface than many other Super League club stadia. It has a capacity of approximately 2,500 and is also used by the academy and reserve teams.

The club employs a full time groundsman to maintain the pitch in David Monk, an ex head greenkeeper from Poulton Park Golf Club in Warrington. He is responsible for maintaining and preparing the pitch for matches and training sessions. He got into greenkeeping originally through a friend who was head greenkeeper at Ashton-in-Makerfield Golf Club, where he worked his way up to deputy head. He then moved to Ireland for a spell doing golf course construction, before moving back to England to take the head greenkeeper position at Poulton Park.

David has been at the club three years and, in that time, has managed to maintain the pitch with limited resources.

The pitch is heavily used by the club, with numerous training sessions and matches taking place most weeks throughout the playing season.

David usually starts early to ensure the pitch is cut before training commences, usually to around 25mm. The pitch is an old soil based (clay loam) surface with some localised drainage installed.

He usually mows the pitch three to four times a week with a Toro Sidewinder ride-on cylinder mower, double cutting Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on matchdays, with the rest of his time dedicated to repairing the pitch after training sessions and getting it ready for matches. The pitch is marked out twice a week for training and on matchdays, if needed.

Spiking is carried out once a month, or more if it rains heavily. The weeds are either pulled out by hand or spot treated for clover and buttercup. David says that, this season, they have started to overseed every six weeks to thicken up the grass coverage, which seems to be paying off.

The pitch is brushed and dragmatted after every cut to take off excess grass clippings and to help keep it level, using a Sisis Flexicomb and rubber dragmat.

As the end of season renovations are in autumn, he limits this to a deep verti-drain and a dressing of sand.

David does not have a massive budget, but there is generally enough in the pot for the renovations, with the rest spent on keeping the equipment maintained and purchasing feeding products

The pitch generally holds up well to the activity it gets.

David gets on well with all the coaching staff and is able to ensure they utilise the pitch without doing untold damage with their coaching drills. It is generally a case of moving them around the pitch to spread the wear.

Like most groundsmen who do not have undersoil heating, coping with frost and snow during the winter months is the hardest part of the job, but David says that he can enlist the help of some of the players, when needed, to help put on the frost sheets.

Sometimes, during the winter months, the pitch is liable to flooding from surface water from the car parks, and it is then a case of doing some localised spiking to help disperse the lying water. Other than that, the soil based pitch drains quite well.

As for a wish list, David would eventually like to have a topdresser and verti-drain, items that are currently hired in from Sharrocks. Oh, and a trailer would be useful - using the wheelbarrow gets a bit tedious.

What's in the shed?

Toro Sidewinder
Kubota B1410 compact tractor
Sisis Flexicomb
Husqvarna brushcutter
Husqvarna rotary mower
Transfer wheel marker

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Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

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