TALKING SPORT - They’re staying. And now we can smile again

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NEVER a dull day at Wigan. Even in the off-season.

Not long ago, there was a sense of doom and gloom among many fans following the departures of several stars including Thomas Leuluai, George Carmont and Brett Finch. And that was before the news of Parramatta’s interest in Gareth Hock.

And so today’s announcement that Josh Charnley, Sean O’Loughlin and Mike McIlorum have signed new deals will be welcomed by all fans.

And don’t be shocked to see Hock line-up alongside them next year. I was told last night that Parramatta won’t pay Wigan’s asking price.

WIGAN at Anfield is so often one of my favourite fixtures.

Forget Peter Crouch’s freaky goal, and remember Titus Bramble’s dramatic equaliser. Remember Gary Caldwell’s fabulous winner last season.

And, even though they lost, Amr Zaki’s overhead rocket remains one of my favourite all-time Latics goals.

After the rocky season Liverpool have had, coupled with Wigan’s decent form, gives them real hope this Saturday.

FINAL word on the autumn series. Yes, I believe the players and Steve McNamara that they benefitted from it.

They do look like a closer-knit squad. Cross-club friendships have been forged, combinations have been improved, trust in each other has been galvanised... so at least McNamara won’t have that task when they reunite for the World Cup.

Just a shame, though, that it came at such expense.; one-sided games in front of small crowds was hardly the PR the sport needed.

GREAT to see Up Holland’s Leon Osman earn an England call-up.

The midfielder, 31, revealed he had to put Sky Sports News on to convince his son that his inclusion wasn’t a wind-up!

THE death of Joe Egan will touch so many, even though many never saw him play.

His legacy burned bright long after he hung up the boots, and reading about his career on Sunday after learning of his death, it was hard not to marvel at the changes to rugby league between his time and now.

Not long ago, the England rugby league players flew business class to South Africa for a training camp. No business class for Egan when he played. No commercial flights, either.

When he toured Down Under, it took nearly six weeks on an aircraft carrier to reach Australia – and then five days on a hot, crammed train – with no sleeping area – from Perth to Sydney, before he returned home five months later.

THE staff at Wigan Observer towers have been quick to get behind Joseph’s Goal, set up by my colleague Paul Kendrick.

Some are growing moustaches, some are selling wristbands... and when Paul dropped into conversation this morning a chance to meet Jessica Ennis, every single man put his hand up to help out!

I think Paul may need to organise a wrestling style Royal Rumble to sort it out. I’ll keep you posted...