Talking RL: Anyone think it won't be a Wigan Warriors-St Helens Grand Final?

I was ridiculed when I tipped Wigan to go on a winning streak. But they did.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 9:51 am
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 10:51 am
Liam Marshall celebrates his hat-trick

I was laughed at when I then suggested they’d climb to second. And they have.

So I’m just going to come out and say it; I think Wigan will face St Helens in the Grand Final! Encouragingly, this time, I don't think I'm alone.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for a side which at one stage, was rock-bottom. Below rock-bottom, actually, when you think they started on -2 points!

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Even when they were lurching from one loss to another, it never felt like a crisis - for me - because they were having a dig, they were often narrowly losing. I expected them to turn it though I never thought it would be possible for them to reach second (other results have been kind, in fairness).

And with Sean O’Loughlin to return in time for the really big games – standard – and their defence so hungry and aggressive, I can’t see them letting slip of their second spot.

That would ensure they get a home match against the team finishing third in the first round of the play-offs.

Lose, and they have a safety net of another game, while a win would put them 80 minutes away from an Old Trafford return.

The bookies still have Saints as favourites to be victorious at Old Trafford, but Wigan are now second-favourites, ahead of Warrington and the rest of the chasing pack.

Does anyone think it won't be a Saints-Wigan Grand Final?

Plenty of people are taking offence to Lachlan Coote’s inclusion in the Great Britain training squad. Frankly, I’m more annoyed that Zak Hardaker and Liam Farrell have again been overlooked.

I’ll say this; if we judge coaches by results, they have the right to pick players they want.

Still, I find the Warriors duo’s absence confusing, particularly given some of the other players in the initial 29-man panel.

Saints No.1 Coote is not the only Aussie included. Warrington’s Blake Austin, who has an English grandparent, is also included.

Generally, I’ve never been a fan of calling up players who qualify through ancestry.

But I take every case on merit and on Coote, the words of former Scotland coach Steve McCormack carried a lot of weight with me.

Coote was so keen to play for Scotland, he lost money. For me, he’s already proved his commitment to the cause of the Bravehearts and, consequently, GB.

Why do some coaches and chairmen seem to accept their players will make errors, but expect referees not to make any?

Plenty of St Helens players made mistakes at Wembley and yet, last Friday, chairman Eamonn McManus went all-guns - unfairly, in my view - on official Robert Hicks.

Wakefield boss Chris Chester then hit out at a “disgraceful call” in Sunday’s loss to Wigan.

I've watched it back and it was an error by the official. In fact, a couple of the other tries - for both sides - had question marks over them.

Chester spoke of his pride in his players. But according to the Super League website, his players missed 38 tackles. That's 38... on a day when they played well.

So they’re allowed to make so many mistakes, but referees should be perfect, right? Got it.

All the best to Jack Dearden, BBC Manchester's voice of rugby league and all-round good egg, as he has treatment for throat cancer.

Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Thanks to the fans on social media who suggested some nicknames for a 'Wigan dream team', which will be appearing here soon.

Sadly, there was no space for Ryan ‘Rocky’ Hampshire or Joe ‘Budgie’ Burgess.

And another name put forward, who didn’t make the list, was Scott Quinnell.

Was he really ever known as ‘Foo’?!