Paper Talk: RFL chairman wants focus on pitch, Hastings & French doubt for R1 + Bateman eyes captaincy

We’ve had a look through the morning papers.

Pitch over politics

RFL chairman Simon Johnson says focus should be on the pitch, not the politics of the sport, reports League Express. Looking forward to the start of the season, he highlighted a number of topics worth discussing. But he admitted his bemusement at Wigan’s decision to put Ian Lenagan front and centre of their media day last week. “The season launch got lost in the coverage of the chairman’s views. The rugby league media needs to get back to focusing on the pitch.”

Bateman up for captaincy

Wigan’s marquee signing John Bateman is a candidate to captain both club and country in 2021. He told The Sun: “If I asked anyone, ‘Would you want to be captain of England?’ They’d say yes. It would be a fantastic thing for myself, especially with the World Cup this year. That would be fantastic.” Wigan are yet to announce a successor to retired skipper Sean O’Loughlin.

Hastings and French doubt for Round 1

Bevan French and Jackson Hastings won’t be risked in Wigan’s season opener against Leigh unless they are up to speed after their long time away, reports Wigan Today. The superstar pair were given extended leave in light of the pandemic and Hastings returns to training tomorrow (Tuesday). Lam said: “Jackson is in for training tomorrow, we’ll test him and if he’s not quite right he won’t play in round one, so we’ll wait and see. Bevan is probably a week after and we’re in the same situation again.”

Betts backs Newcastle’s bold vision

Director of Rugby Denis Betts has backed Newcastle’s bold aim of winning Super League by 2030 and says it is achievable. He told The Mirror: “All we’ve done is given ourselves a timescale to work hard, and I’d like to think we could achieve it before that, that’s what my goal is. We can’t say that it’s not doable, but we also recognise that it’s a very tough ask.”

Youngster gets NRL green light

Sydney Roosters sensation Joseph Suaalii has been granted an exemption to make his NRL debut before he turns 18, reports The Guardian. The 17-year-old centre is still a student and doesn’t turn 18 until August 1st. He would be the first player to debut before legally being an adult since Jason Taumalolo in 2010.

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