Bateman: Magic fixtures probably not fair
John Bateman admits the Magic Weekend fixtures are probably unfair in the race for the league leader' shield.
Wigan, in second-place, take on third-placed Wolves in the annual ‘on the road’ showcase at Newcastle’s St James’ Park today.
By contrast, pace-setters St Helens face lowly Widnes – separated by 18-points on the ladder – on the same day.
And with the Magic fixtures extra games – in addition to the home and away matches before the split for the Super-8s – Bateman acknowledges Saints have been given the easier task.
Asked if the fixtures were fair, he replied: “Probably not. They play Widnes three times this year (before the split).
“No disrespect to Widnes but they’re not a team fighting for the top-four this year. They’re in the bottom-four.
“I’m not saying it’s a guaranteed two points but it’s an easier two points.
“But we want to finish top of the league this year and it’s one of those things, we can’t rely on other results, it’s about what we do.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Today’s game, which kicks-off at 5.15pm, will reunite Wigan with their former crowd-pleasing winger Josh Charnley.
“Him and Sarge were my two closest mates when I joined from Bradford,” added Bateman.
“They helped me quite a bit – it’ll be weird facing him, but it’s part and parcel of the game.”
Charnley’s first game against the Warriors will provide an intriguing sub-plot to today’s match, which kicks-off at 5.15pm.
The Wolves have won 10 games straight to close the gap on second-placed Wigan to just two points.
Charnley may now be playing for their fierce rivals, but he is still close friends with many members of the Warriors squad, including his fishing partner Sam Powell.
“We see each other most weeks and speak to each other most days so it’s going to be a funny one,” said halfback Powell.
“He’s into fishing as much as I am. If we get the chance and our missus’ give us the go-ahead, we go out.
“His lad and my little girl are similar age and so we’ll get together and they’ll play.”
Charnley has scored 12 tries in eight appearances since returning from Sale RU.
“He’s killing it and I expected him to,” said Powell. “He’s in a good set-up there and he’s happy, that’s the main thing.”
Wigan are in good form themselves, and head into this looking to preserve Shaun Wane’s unbeaten run in the ‘on the road’ fixture.
“Magic has a bit more buzz about the game, it’s easy to get up for,” added Powell. “It’s just a great weekend all round. I loved it at the Etihad, and I’m a fan of St James’, too.”