England coach Steve McNamara is predicting that the Engage Super League play-offs will have all the intensity of a Test series as the competition’s top eight clubs battle it out for a place at Old Trafford.
The Theatre of Dreams hosts the 2010 Engage Super League Grand Final on Saturday October 2 when the title will be contested by the two most consistent sides over the 27 rounds of the regular season who have emerged victorious from the test of nerve and skill that is the play-offs.
For McNamara, the 2010 top-eight play-offs will see Super League step up to a whole new level of competitiveness more usually seen in the cut and thrust of international matches rather than club-level Rugby League.
“The play-offs are going to be absolutely awesome this year and I think the fans are in for an absolute treat over the next few weeks,” said McNamara.
“There are some fantastic matches coming up as all eight clubs know there is everything to play for in the next month. Reaching the Super League Grand Final is a massive goal and as a player these are the matches you dream of being involved in.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen the quality of matches that will take place next weekend – Saints against the Cup holders, Warrington; the first-ever play-off for Crusaders RL at Huddersfield Giants; the brilliance of the Hull derby; and Wigan versus Leeds.
“From a player’s point of view, matches rarely come bigger than this; for anyone who loves sport, these are games you wouldn’t want to miss.”
The winners of the Friday night match, St Helens v Warrington Wolves (8.00) and Sunday’s epic encounter, Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos (6.45) will progress to have home advantage in the Qualifying Semi-finals in Week 3.
However by virtue of having finished the regular season with a top-four finish, the losers of the Friday and Sunday play-offs are rewarded with a home play-off in Week 2 to the winners from Huddersfield v Crusaders and Hull FC v Hull KR.
The schedule for the opening weekend of the play-offs in full is:
Friday September 10
Saturday September 11
Elimination Play-off – Huddersfield Giants v Crusaders RL (3.45)
Winners are away in Week 2, losers are eliminated
Sunday September 12