TALKING SPORT - A single act which summed up Latics’ spirit

MAYNOR Figueroa did much more than guarantee Latics a point on Saturday.

In the dying seconds, the defender showed great technical ability to get back and clear a stinging shot off the line with a header.

Alan Shearer described it as being “as good as a goal” on Match of the Day, and he’s right. Figueroa already had an impressive highlights reel – remember his goal against Stoke from inside his own half? – and Saturday’s intervention is right up there.

But equally impressive as what he did, was when he did it. Because in the fifth minute of injury-time, after an energy-sapping hour-and-a-half of action, how many other players would show such urgency and awareness to rush back like Figueroa did?

His act spoke volumes about the spirit which Roberto Martinez has harnessed. And it’s that spirit which will be so important in dragging them away from the threat of relegation. Victory over Sunderland on Saturday could see Latics climb to 15th in the ladder. Not safe by any shot – but the table would certainly make for more comfortable viewing.

ENGLAND will again play the Exiles – a team of Super League’s best overseas stars – this year.

A sugary RFL press release claimed: “The International Origin matches have grown in stature and intensity since their inception in 2011.”

How, exactly?

The first game in 2011 drew a crowd of 14,174. Then last year, when the concept was stretched to two matches, the first attracted 11,083 and – for the second – just 7,865.

Grown in stature? Pull the other one!

The line about an increased intensity is also shaky, given the first contest was only settled in the last minute – a four-point win for the Exiles – and the two since have been settled by wider scorelines (eight and 12 points respectively).

And with fewer players joining Super League from Australia and New Zealand (none of the north west’s five clubs have signed an import from the NRL this year) I can’t help feel that, after this summer, the Exiles concept will be as dead and buried as Sky Sports’ Margin Meter.

EDITING a weekly newspaper, there’s always the risk of egg on face as developments unfold in the hours and days after deadline.

But for once, I actually hope my next statement is rendered incorrect: The new season kicks-off in little more than two weeks. Still there is no sponsor for Super League, the Championship, the Challenge Cup or the World Cup.

THERE have been suggestions that Lance Armstrong’s likely confession on Oprah this week may trigger an avalanche of claims against the disgraced former Tour de France winner.

Memo to Lance: I know you have other things on your mind right now. But once you’ve paid back all the competition money and given back the libel pay-out to the Sunday Times, I’d appreciate it if you could give me the £14.98 I spent on your two books. Cheers.