TALKING SPORT - Is fabled Wembley hangover all in the head?

Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors, Challenge Cup Final: Jeff Lima with the Challenge Cup
Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors, Challenge Cup Final: Jeff Lima with the Challenge Cup

WEMBLEY seems so long ago, but are the effects still taking their toll?

Wigan haven’t been the same side since. They have lost two of three, and if they lose one more game their season is over.

But Leeds’ form since losing in the Challenge Cup Final has made a mockery of claims that the extra games take their toll, which suggests that if there is any fatigue, it’s in the mind rather than the body.

Michael Maguire is tired of hearing about the Cup effects, but a victory on Sunday would silence the doubters... and help ensure a campaign that has been successful and enjoyable doesn’t fizzle out against Catalan.

‘ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has called on the services of another Australia-based player...’ read the story yesterday.

Only the player, Chris Heighington, isn’t just Australia-based. He’s Australian.

Born in Sydney. Raised in Sydney. Probably never seen Corrie or sang our national anthem in his life.

The Wests forward qualifies for England because his dad emigrated Down Under before he was born. It’s within the rules, but I don’t like it.

We’ve been down this path before, calling up Samoa’s Maurie Faasavalu for Great Britain in 2007 on the basis that he qualified under the residency rule, having lived here for more than three years.

Again, all within the rules.

I hope Heighington’s inclusion doesn’t set us off on a slippery slope. It’s one thing for the developing nations to trace the blood-lines of players or look for qualified ‘residents’ to bolster their ranks, but it reeks of desperation when we have to do it.

The England rugby league team, like the football side, may not win much. But at least they fail with their own players.

LIKE most modern managers and coaches, it is the performance – not the result – which Roberto Martinez obsesses about.

That’s why he can lose 3-1 and still talk of his “pride” and “delight”. He hopes that if they maintain those standards the results will come, but it doesn’t get any easier, with Spurs – fresh from their 4-0 humiliation of Liverpool – arriving at the DW this Saturday.

I WAS flattered when my son compared one of my shots against him last week to that of a Premier League striker.

Then I saw the highlights of United’s 3-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday and realised ‘Torres’ has become a by-word for spectacular failure. So I grounded him for a week...

DEPENDING on who you believe, the England rugby union players may or may not have been involved in dwarf throwing during a boozy night out in New Zealand last week.

Captain Mike Tindall has already been shamed by the papers, but it’s the London 2012 organisers who should be ashamed of themselves.

Dwarf throwing sounds like a far better sport to watch than fencing and weight lifting.

Why on earth isn’t it in the Olympics?!