WIGAN didn’t miss Sam Tomkins last Friday.
It wasn’t Pat Richards they needed against Hudderfield, or Harrison Hansen, or Lee Mossop.
It was Sean O’Loughlin.
Wigan have lost some talent in the off-season, undoubtedly, but no-one has had as big an influence on the side in the last few years as their current captain.
They haven’t lost with him in their side in nearly a year. Yep – all eight defeats have been when he’s been injured.
Statistics, so the saying goes, are like mini-skirts – they show you a lot but they hide the bits that matter. And no matter how high his tackle counts and metres made, the figures don’t do justice to the impact O’Loughlin has on the Warriors.
Yet anyone who watches Wigan regularly can easily tell the difference in the way they defend, the way they fight back, and the way their multi-layered attacks are executed when the loose forward is there to call the shots.
Which is why it is dangerous to base a World Club Challenge prediction solely on their poor performance against Huddersfield.
With O’Loughlin back – and two other England World Cup players in Josh Charnley and Mike McIlorum set to return –Wigan have reason to be optimistic.
THE Warriors squad arrived in Auckland yesterday and, on the coach ride to their hotel, passed the flashing blue lights of a police car.
“A flashy white convertible had been pulled over for what we guessed would be speeding and who stepped out of the sports car? Sam Tomkins,” revealed Kris Radlinski.
“You couldn’t write it. A zillion miles from home and he thought that his embarrassment would be safe. Not a chance.”
ANOTHER FA Cup tie, another Premier League opponent.
Latics travel to Cardiff this Saturday as attention once again goes away from the league.
Hopefully, they emerge from the tie with no injuries and with a bit of added confidence to push for promotion.
But nobody can blame Wigan fans who take their minds back and remember what happened on the road to glory a year ago.
This weekend, the top four face each other, ensuring two of the big boys will bow out.
And with a win on Saturday ensuring Latics are just 90 minutes from Wembley, it’s tempting for any fan to play the scenarios game of ‘if this happens, if we get a lucky draw...’
Facing Cardiff will be no walk in the park. But I can certainly see where Uwe Rosler is coming from when he says they are the best top-flight side to face. They have problems of their own, battling against relegation from the Premier League.
AT no other time would I be interested in watching a Scottish woman slide a big rock towards another rock, while two of her friends furiously brush the ice. But when it’s under the winter Olympic banner, it’s great viewing!
Of course, Wigan’s Jenny Meadows missed out on the summer Games through injury. It’s great to see her back on track – Lord knows she deserves some good luck now.