TALKING SPORT - Three priceless points and renewed optimism

Share this article

IT may only have counted for three points, but Wigan Athletic’s victory at Reading meant so much more than that.

Beausejour’s pass for Kone’s second was as good as the goal itself. And as well as taking them out of the bottom three for the first time in 2013, it gives Latics a massive fillip ahead of the final 11 games.

It puts them within touching distance of the likes of Newcastle and Southampton, allowing them to look up as well as over their shoulder.

Saturday’s visit of Liverpool is always a big game, but Latics will go in with a real feeling of optimism on the back of three priceless points.

How time flies.

Nathan Ellington is rightly revered among Latics’ fans.

He, as much as anyone, turned the once unimaginable prospect of Premier League football into an incredible reality, before leaving for West Brom without kicking a top-flight ball for the club.

His career has been on the slide ever since.

The idea that, had he stayed, he would still be firing in goals with prolific regularity is probably a romantic one.

But there was still something quite sad about seeing the Duke lead the line for Crewe’s reserves against Latics at Robin Park Arena yesterday, literally in the shadows of the stadium where he cast an incredible legacy.

By the evidence presented on Sunday night, the people of Salford have not been blown away by Marwan Koukash’s ambition.

Just 1,989 fans turned up to watch their exciting contest with Hull KR. So is it cynical to suggest that their declaration of interest in Sam Tomkins, made public in a newspaper yesterday, was a ploy to attract more fans?

I’m not suggesting the bid wasn’t real – but it was doomed to fail from the outset.

What next? Salford make a bid for Billy Slater? Or Greg Inglis? If it lures a few more fans through the gate, then good luck to them.

Koukash’s investment is welcomed, his ambition admirable. But I’d be amazed if he manages to attract one of the game’s few superstars to a club which attracts such embarrassing crowds.

In the press release outlawing the shoulder charge last week, the RFL explained its U-turn to fall in line with the NRL.

“Whilst we believed the challenge should not be banned... it is right that the RLIF (international body) should have ultimate control over issues such as this, and we remain committed to standardising all the laws of the game.”

A shame, then, that the RFL’s Australian counterparts didn’t have that attitude.

The shoulder charge was first outlawed by the NRL. Then the RLIF followed suit, and now the RFL.

So however you dress it up, the Super League rules and the international rules are being governed by the Aussies.

That sound wrong to anyone else?

Speaking to successive Wigan coaches on a regular basis, some terms are used so often they stick out.

Mike Gregory? ‘Rip and tear’. Brian Noble? ‘The reality is...’ With Shaun Wane, it’s ‘we’ll deal with it’.

Not even the loss of his third front-line prop last weekend conjured anything other than sympathy for the player in question (Lee Mossop). No premeditated excuses, no injury crisis to deal with.

‘We’ll deal with it’.

Shaun Wane’s attitude is admirable.