Editor Column: It’s great to be back

What a pleasure it was to spend a long weekend watching rugby league and discussing the talking points on the pitch.

As a sport, we seem to get lost in a lot of off-field drama that diverts away from the real reason we love the game, something that has ultimately been a consequence of the licensing system and has carried on.

Knee-jerk reactions are nothing new though, and while heavy defeats on opening day for the likes of Castleford, Catalans and Leigh might have been disappointing for them, it’s unlikely to set the tone for the rest of the year.

Champions Leeds lost their opening game last season, albeit a narrow 6-4 defeat at St Helens, and were thrashed 66-10 by Castleford at the start of March.

So if your team did lose over the weekend, all is not lost – plus get your promo code bet365.

As we chase the holy grail of victory over Australia, a long-standing issue for the English game has been the lack of quality at half-back.

In the three games I was at over the weekend, five English halves all shined – Richie Myler for Leeds, both Danny Richardson and Jonny Lomax at St Helens, and Joe Mellor and Tom Gilmore at Widnes.

Chuck in George Williams and Sam Powell, key in Wigan’s thumping of Salford, and it was a good weekend for a clutch of homegrown half-backs.

And of course, Luke Gale, Jake Trueman, Gareth O’Brien and others will have their time too.

All in all, while this may be a consequence of a decline in quality due to the lowering standard of imports from Down Under because of the ever increasing NRL salary cap, the development of English players is encouraging.

Leeds fans were purring at the performance of full-back Jack Walker, who put in an impressive display well beyond his tender years in the win over Warrington, and Wigan’s never-ending production line is going to provide a significant majority of a trophy-winning side should they find success this year.

Gone are the days where the England team picks itself.

As well as the start of Super League, the Championship got underway over the weekend, kicking-off with a thriller between Dewsbury and Sheffield on Friday night.

Live commentary from the game was broadcast via our Facebook page as part of an ongoing plan to devote more coverage to the Championship and League 1 during the season.

The headline Championship game between Leigh and Toronto was our featured Sunday match, and we will be doing our utmost to improve coverage of the lower leagues, amidst the continuing reluctance of the rights holders to show more live matches.

And finally, in this column every week I’ll either brag or despair about my latest battle in our new Tipping Super League feature.

Five successful predictions, with only Hull KR letting me down, meant a 5-3 victory over State of Mind’s Dr Phil Cooper.


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