Leeds are gaining momentum under Rohan Smith and both they and Salford could cause the top four problems if they make the play-offs, according to Alex Walmsley.
That’s the view of the St Helens powerhouse – a former Rhinos season ticket holder – as the race for end-of-season spots hots up in Super League.
Leeds look revitalised under new boss Smith, with stunning recent wins over Wigan and at Catalans underlining their upward momentum. Champions Saints remain four points clear of the pack despite a recent stumble that saw them suffer a humbling defeat at Salford.
“At the moment I don’t see anyone coming into that top four, that will be the top four,” Walmsley told Love Rugby League.
“But the way that Salford played against us I think they can creep into contention. Leeds are starting to get a bit of form as well.
“We can all beat each other in that top four, everybody will be quietly confident. I think there are a few sides outside the top four who will be fancying themselves too.
“History says we would not want to play Leeds in the Grand Final. Thankfully I wasn’t involved in those games, I was only involved as a Leeds fan before signing for St Helens. I went to a couple of those finals. I was a Leeds season ticket holder growing up as a Dewsbury lad. From a Saints point of view, lets hope history doesn’t repeat itself.”
Alex Walmsley: The quantity surveyor turned professional rugby league player
Speaking exclusively on the latest episode of the Love Rugby League Podcast, Walmsley reveals how a sliding doors moment saw him become a professional rugby league player rather than a quantity surveyor, after graduating from Leeds Met University.
“I got offered a job as a QS when I was playing part-time at Batley,” he explained.
“I was playing for my local amateur team Dewsbury Celtic until I was 21 in the National Conference League against some good physical sides. That was a good apprenticeship and it nurtured me as a prop forward. The pinnacle for me was part-time football, I thought Batley was the elite. I didn’t expect to go on and have the career I’ve had.
“I thought Batley was the elite”
“Right up until signing for St Helens I was destined to be a QS. I was offered a job by a firm in Wakefield by a Wakefield fan. In the interview he said they wanted someone to come in and manage and be head of department long-term.
“He asked if he was going to lose me to rugby league. I was 22 and I said I’ve missed that boat, as I would have been picked up at 18, 19 as a full-time rugby league player. Part-time rugby was the only level I saw myself I felt I was going to play. I would have given that up as well if it had got in the way of the job.
“He offered me the job. The weekend before I was supposed to start I had to ring him and say that St Helens had given me a three-year deal! That was the beginning and the end of my QS career.”