Talking Sport - Wigan will not go down without a fight

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson

SATURDAY suggested Wigan Athletic’s run-in is going to be anything but a drawn-out funeral procession.

They are not going to go down without a fight.

Given Latics had the second-worst home record in the league – and Bolton the second-worst away record – it was, in hindsight, a safe bet the game would end in a draw.

But it needed an injury-time equaliser from Martyn Waghorn to rescue a precious point on a pitch where they haven’t won in seven months.

That wasn’t the end of the drama, as all eyes turned to events at Rotherham – the team just outside the relegation zone.

They were leading, then drawing, then leading again... and went into injury-time 2-1 up against Sheffield Wednesday, and Latics had gone from six-points from safety, to nine, to eight – all in a few crazy minutes.

But then the Owls mustered two goals in injury-time, condemning Rotherham to defeat and cutting Wigan’s margin from safety to five points, to keep alive their faint hopes of Championship survival.

THE overwhelming positive from Wigan’s poor display at Leeds was the way no one involved tried to gloss over it.

It was another poor performance, littered with errors and penalties – issues they desperately need to cut those from their game.

I don’t share the extreme view that the squad needs major surgery. You only need to look at the number of Test caps, Grand Final appearances and exciting youngsters to see they have enough good players.

Trouble is, too many of those good players are not in form. And this sticky run has once again highlighted just how important Sean O’Loughlin is to this squad.

They can win without him, sure, but they rarely lose with him; he played in two games at the start of this year and they lost neither.

Since then, they have lost four of their five games, and their solitary win was by a single point.

Thankfully, they should have few problems overcoming Wakefield on Friday. And with a derby against St Helens a week later, Wigan need to win in style, to boost their confidence ahead of the Good Friday encounter.

I HOPE the Super League marquee player proposal gets the go-ahead.

It would be a victory for common-sense – a chance to retain and recruit star players without ruining what the salary cap achieves; namely, a more competitive league and financial stability for clubs.

If it does get the green light, it will be interesting to see what impact it makes.

Many clubs, including Wigan, may only plan to use it sparingly.

But what if Warrington sign Greg Inglis on a £1m deal? Or Salford throw money at Billy Slater to lure him to these shores?

It may put the ‘sensible’ clubs under more pressure to follow suit.

The more stars Super League can sign, and keep hold of, the better.