Talking Sport - It’s all coming together for Latics

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson

WELL Latics are finally up and running – and not before time.

The win that had been coming finally arrived against Blackpool at the weekend.

And the only downside was that it wasn’t by a far more emphatic winning margin than the 1-0 scoreline.

A troubled pre-season has led to Latics’ below-par start to the campaign.

But with players getting fitter by the game, and others coming back from injury, the signs are promising the team is just getting into its stride.

There’s no doubt that the Latics squad possesses the quality to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

And assuming it remains intact when the transfer window slams shut at the beginning of next week, it’s reasonable to expect they will soon close the gap on the early front-runners.

Saturday’s home game against struggling Birmingham gives them an ideal chance to do that and, with an international break the following week, that should allow valuable time on the training ground for some to work on fitness and others to continue their recovery from injury.

Blues picked up a point on their last trip to the DW just after Christmas, in one of Uwe Rosler’s first games in charge.

Much has changed since then and, with Latics showing signs of finding their feet, Rosler’s men will be going out for all three that would make the league table even better reading.

THIS weekend’s round of Super League fixtures will support the work of State of Mind, which addresses players’ mental health.

Terry Newton’s suicide in 2010 prompted the game to increase its work – and spawned the State of Mind campaign.

But much more importantly, from a player’s point of view, it made them much more receptive to the issue. Tez was one of the toughest players they knew, and if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. They, and the sport, should be applauded for the steps they’ve taken.

LEEDS were efficient in the Challenge Cup Final, little more, but deserved winners none the less.

Be sure of one thing: their Wembley win will dial up the intensity among the Wigan players – because they will not want any team matching their double-heroics of a year ago.

LAST week, I had a chuckle at a comment by Nigel Wood – the RFL boss in charge of the global game – about ‘international rugby league never being in better health’.

This week, we hear rumours a proposed Lions tour in 2015 may be called off. Australia don’t want to host it, apparently.

If it wasn’t bad enough that England have a three-year gap between home matches (last November and the 2016 Four Nations), the idea that they may only play as little as one Test each against the Kangaroos and Kiwis during that time is laughable. And it makes Wood’s remark even more embarrassing.

This, remember, is a code which is losing its two biggest stars, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess, to rugby union in a few weeks’ time.

Not quite the World Cup ‘legacy’ I had in mind.