So after all the mystery and intrigue, ok not that much mystery and intrigue, we now know it’s the exiles who are coming and we now just have to decide exactly who is coming. It’s like Fantasy RL but without the salary cap, and Brian McClennan making some picks as well. In fact Brian McClennan gets a bit more say than we do, but that makes sense I guess, he’s got to field the team.
So far he’s announced Danny Buderus, Thomas Leuleui and Luke O’Donnell and in all honesty I got a bit confused by all the squad is reduced to this, then some picks are made then some players are announced gradually and some aren’t and what not, but you get a fiver off if you want to go to Headingly to watch the game in June so it’s worth doing anyway. (You can make picks at http://www.internationalorigin.com/)
With any luck it’ll be a good game as well, that is the idea, but does the result make any difference? As long as it’s a competitive game then there’s the possibility to put a positive spin on it either way. England get beat against a select team that they would never come up against in a normal arena and it has provided the challenge better than playing France every year, or if they win they’ve beaten a team which represent a greater challenge that represents a team more of the strength of Australia or New Zealand.
Elsewhere around the world of British rugby league it was a Northern Rail cup weekend in which Widnes proved their Super League credentials with an embarrassing defeat to Leigh for the second time in a fortnight… Yep, Widnes’ rise to Super League I should imagine will be making news all season, as was pointed out by Johnny Bell in his latest Knock-On blog this is a team who haven’t finished in the top 3 since 2007 and are on their way up. But fear not the Widnes recruitment machine is in full swing, they’ve asked Darren Lockyer to come and play instead of retiring. He said no. I’m not surprised by his response, I’m surprised by Widnes’ approach. He’s a big name sure, but he’s way past his best and he may well bring a lot of experience to hopefully pass on to the youth coming through but I thought we were supposed to be getting past bringing ageing Aussies to the Super League, didn’t everyone sign up to that at some point? This week sees another round of “Everybody wants to be Ellery Hanley” maybe Widnes could offer him a contract – he’s retired, past his best and arguably better than Lockyer?
Still I think it’s about time to move on to my tipping and it wasn’t a bad weekend again, underestimating a confident Catalan team away to Wigan proved my only blip. I did get 100% I Championship 1, so what if there were only two games. Catalan take on Hull this weekend and I wonder if they still have the exercise bikes on the side lines? I imagine David Ferriol will stick to jogging the touch line.
Harlequins 10 – 22 Castleford – So Castleford are riding high, top of the league and Quins early magic has well and truly deserted them, this seems a no brainer pick – no brainer picks are often wrong. Still Castleford to leave London with the points and get out before the traffic for Sunday’s London Marathon arrives.
Hull KR 18 – 20 Wigan – Knowing Wigan so far this season they’ll get themselves a draw, but I think they’ll actually sneak it here. It should be a good game, KR are proving to be a bit of strange team, inconsistent but still capable of good performances.
Warrington 22 – 10 Crusaders – Another no brainer pick? I think so, Crusaders even with a recent win on the road to Salford haven’t really shown anything like what would be needed to overcome Warrington, still who would have expected Wire to go down to Catalan a fortnight ago?
Leeds 18 – 30 Huddersfield – I would put Huddersfield up there as the current form team, they’re on a roll with a big win against Warrington last week and they’re exhibiting their top 4 credentials, I expect them to continue that on the road to a lack lustre Leeds side.
Saints 28 – 10 Wakefield – With Saints having settled down a bit after their early season jitters at the Stobart stadium I think they’ll happily see of Wakefield. Wakey on the other hand appear to be managing to do little on the pitch to help their Super League status, arguably a high finish would be their only saving grace, but realistically they’d have to finish above top of the table Castleford – the writing is on the wall for them.
Catalan 24 – 12 Hull FC – Catalan are riding high after two successful raid in the North West, they’ll want to convert that into home form and get the points against a visiting Hull team.
Salford 22 – 8 Bradford – For both of these teams you’d be just as likely to toss a coin and get the correct winner. Both teams have been inconsistent both home and away and I’m just going to take a stab at Salford being the team to turn up.
Strangely there aren’t any Super League games on Sunday, so enjoy it, maybe go and watch some Championship or amateur games or something.
As mentioned above “Everybody wants to be Ellery Hanley” makes it return this week, so all you have to do is tell me which chap in the primrose and blue wants to be Ellery this week? Answers in the comments and no, I still haven’t got a prize for it, apart from praise and kudos for the winner.