TALKING SPORT - The game which could ignite the new season

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LET no-one tell you that Friday’s game is just two points.

That it doesn’t matter who wins, as long as Wigan play well at the end of the year.

Last season’s failure to reach the Grand Final has whipped-up some bitterness in some fans, who are quick to ridicule the importance of doing well in Super League when Leeds, it seems, always seem to scrape into the play-offs and still go on to become champions.

But games between Wigan and Warrington rarely disappoint. After an opening round which produced just one shock (St Helens lost) and several blow-out scorelines, this Friday’s match should ignite this season’s Super League.

I KNEW there was something different about Paul Scharner when, in an early interview, he listed skydiving and listening to Mozart as two of his hobbies!

It’s great to see the colourful Austrian back at the club where he cast a legacy.

Sentiment aside, he should add some starch to a defence which has leaked 47 goals this season, second only to Aston Villa.

Saturday again proved a frustrating afternoon for Wigan, their early 1-0 lead wiped out by allowing Southampton to claw themselves back into the contest before Shaun Maloney rescued a point.

And so they head to Chelsea this weekend back in the bottom three, and with fans waiting for the start of the now-traditional great escape.

I hope it comes soon. Because of the clubs in the bottom five, QPR spent big in the transfer window and Southampton are showing signs of building some momentum under their new manager.

‘Among the enterprise of Jason Smith and the finishing finesse of Brett Dallas, a reluctant star announced himself last Friday... Sean O’Loughlin, 19, was among Wigan’s most consistent attacking threats after coming off the bench to make his Super League debut.’

So began my match report against Hull FC back in 2002 and now, more than a decade later, he has just chalked up 300 games.

It’s a remarkable achievement, particularly when many of the 34 past-players ahead of him in the ‘300 club’ played in eras when there were many more games in a season.

A 2-1 win for Hartlepool in League One wouldn’t normally catch my attention, but it did on Saturday.

Their two scorers were Peter Hartley and James Poole!

THIS column unashamebly trumpets the achievements of Wiganers making their mark across the country.

Congratulations, then, to David Clarke, the ex-captain of the England blind football team on his FA Lifetime Achievement Award; to Chris Ashton and Owen Farrell for shining for England RU; to netballer Sara Bayman for helping England whitewash the Aussies last month; and to Paralympian Jon Pollock, who will this week spearhead the launch of a Wigan wheelchair basketball club.