TALKING SPORT - Warriors’ woes excited the critics

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RIVAL fans were smacking their lips and critics were sharpening their knives.

Wigan were about to lose three games in a row for the first time since way back in 2009 (yep, all of four years ago!) and, in their eyes the whole club was about to be engulfed in turmoil.

That was, until Iain Thornley and Chris Tuson scored late tries to snatch an unlikely win. Crisis averted, it seemed to some.

The best time to gauge just how big the Warriors remain in rugby league circles is when they’re experiencing a dip in form.

St Helens and big-spending Hull FC look like they’re about to tumble out of the play-offs, but ignore that – Wigan have lost TWO matches! Without their best players!

After back-to-back losses, Shaun Wane’s regular weekly press conference was packed with journalists. “There were only two of you here when we won 15 in a row,” he quipped.

There’s no disguising Wigan have not been at their best in their last two matches.

They’re missing big names, and some of those who have returned from injury are clearly rusty.

But consider this: Bradford were terrific last Friday, and lost. Wigan were poor, and they won. Which would you rather have?

The signing of Grant Holt (above) is the seventh new arrival of the summer at Wigan Athletic – and a real statement of intent ahead of the new campaign.

It’s easy to say the right things after relegation. But Latics are proving they mean business, bringing in an ex-England keeper and now a proven striker. Two seasons ago, Holt was the second top-scoring Englishman in the Premier League after Wayne Rooney. So for Latics to attract a player of his quality underlines what a draw the club remain despite their – hopefully temporary – drop into the Championship.

As the FA Cup holders, Latics will be there to be shot at next season. But given the quality of the recruitment thus far – and the promise of more to come – the squad is looking increasingly like genuine promotion front-runners.

EVERY player dreams of retiring on their terms; in their mid-30s and, with a bit of luck, with a Grand Final victory. Sadly, Paul Prescott has been forced to hang up his boots at the age of 27, providing a harsh reminder of the physical risks players take in fulfilling their ambitions.

As a teenager, Prescott became the first prop to emerge from Wigan’s system and establish himself in more than a decade.

In his early-20s, instead of spending his spare time with his friends at Nando’s and Starbucks, he read for a law degree. Full-time. And in the last three years, he played his part in helping re-establishing Wigan as a Super League force, winning Grand Final and Challenge Cup honours in the process. He can look back on his career with immense satisfaction.

Nothing like sporting achievement to make you feel so patriotic and proud, with the Lions’ stunning victory followed by Andy Murray’s epic final win.

Last week I made it clear my thoughts about those who ludicrously don’t like Murray on the ground that he’s Scottish.

Do they think there were rugby fans north of the border who didn’t support the Lions because there were more Wiganers involved than Scots (three to one, if you’re interested)?!