As I’m sure those of you following Super League this weekend are aware Gareth Hock made his return from a drugs suspension amid some very different responses in the world of social media. Some saying give him a chance he’s served his ban and others appalled how we welcome back a drugs cheat with such open arms and how it wouldn’t happen in another sport.
Obviously that’s not quite true and the main example that springs to mind is Matt Stevens who after a ban for drug use now finds himself back in contention for the England sqaud, something I’m sure Hock would like to emulate. Anyway we welcome other sports drugs cheats (Chambers set for Castleford talks) so why not welcome back our own.
A similarity in the cases of Stevens and Hock is the fact that they both tested positive for cocaine. It seems strange to me, whilst I think the bans are entirely justified for taking an illegal substance, cocaine is a recreational drug, it’s not something you’d take as a performance enhancer. (That of course is another debate but in general the athletic benefits of cocaine are more easily found within legal alternatives). So should these players be truly classed as drug cheats? Should they be subject to the same stigma as somebody taking Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or steroids? Clearly somebody taking HGH is looking for a competitive advantage, surely a ban for cocaine use is more on a par with a drinking problem?
I do think though that drugs in rugby league is a sensitive issue, especially given the death of Terry Newton, and it can probably be one of the areas where the RFL can be said to be doing things properly. They have a focus which is much more on rehabilitation then recrimination and I think that is definitely the right way to go about it.
Some players this week got together for a charity fund raiser game of poker
Obviously a good cause and possibly a good way to satisfy cravings for another problem in Rugby, gambling, allow them to gamble safely and keeping them out of the bookies!
My gambling with my tips didn’t quite pay off last week. A respectable 4 out of 7 in the Super League wasn’t too bad though. A semi shock in at Leeds for Bradford stifled things to start with and it turns out the Quins revival was short lived at one game, but looking ahead and this week we have 8 games as Wigan take on Castleford on Wednesday night for their rearranged fixture which could well give Wigan the chance to take the top of the league out right from Huddersfield and Warrington.
Salford 32 – 20 Harlequins – I was wrong with both of these teams last week and a possibly shaky defensive record for both could leave them with a few more points on the board, regardless I’d still back Salford as the winners.
St Helens 22 – 18 Hull – Saints have lacked a little bit of conviction up against some of the bigger guns in recent weeks and Hull are certainly more than capable of mounting a respectable challenge. I’d expect them to come close but just be edged out at Widnes.
Wigan 20 – 10 Leeds – A defeat to local rivals Bradford will have Leeds smarting last week but a Wigan team with one eye on claiming the top spot outright are unlikely to give much ground to an often indifferent Leeds team.
Castleford 18 – 32 Warrington – Despite a few loses picked up through the season there it still seems very foolish to give Warrington much lower than a 30 point score line especially after posting 35 against Saints last week.
Bradford 10 – 22 Catalans – One of the form teams in the league at the moment Catalan are certainly proving to be a good package this season and hot on the tails of the top 4. Bradford meanwhile will still be harbouring hopes of a play off push from 10th place to finish off the season. Im going to tip this by two tries to the boys from France.
Huddersfield 14 – 20 Crusaders – I like to have a wild speculative pick every so often and this match holds a bit of sway for me. Crusaders have come close to grasping some good results in recent weeks but have still posted 5 loses out of the last 5. Huddersfield though a strong team could well be caught expecting a weaker team than the one which turns up on Sunday and it may play to Crusaders advantage, so my first out there tip in a while Crusaders to snatch the points at Huddersfield.
Hull KR 20 – 10 Wakefield – Not much to pick here, I think KR have the stronger team and obvious home advantage against Wakefield who are currently on average the lowest scoring team in the league. If KR pick up some momentum they could see this out by more than 10.
Wigan 30 – 8 Castleford – Both teams will already have played so the tiredness factor shouldn’t be a dividing issue although Wigan have a higher quality squad. A convincing win for Wigan I think.
So it looks like an enjoyable weekend of rugby ahead kicking off Sheffield and Barrow tonight in the Championship but I’ll close this week with a rubbish look a like, although I may have to change the name to passing resemblance – It’s Leeds player Brett Delaney and Blackburn footballer David Dunn.