Paper Talk: Squad number shock, star’s union link & COVID disbelief

Rugby league paper talk joseph leilua

There’s sadly not such a frantic festive period in rugby league anymore, but coaches and players have still been having a natter in the latest paper talk.

Squad number shock

Coaches usually say that squad numbers don’t matter, but tell that to the players.

Leeds back-rower Alex Mellor was left “shocked” on losing his number 11 shirt to new signing James Bentley.

He told Leeds Live: “It was a genuine surprise, I didn’t know it was going to happen. I had meetings a few weeks before to prepare but I was surprised by it.

“I could moan, complain and think the world is against me. But I’m not going to see it like that. I see it as fire in my belly, a reminder to myself every day that I’ve got to go and get that number and that starting spot each and every week.”

Disbelief over COVID postponements

Castleford coach Lee Radford has admitted his surprise at Premier League football games being cancelled due to COVID.

The Tigers were forced to shutdown over the festive period due to an outbreak of their own.

He told Wakefield Express: “I’m still in disbelief that the Premier League are actually cancelling the games, given the amount of players they have and the size of their squads – first team and reserves.

“Hopefully for the game (rugby league), now is the time to catch Covid rather than during the year.”

Newman attracts interest

Leeds and England centre Harry Newman went to meet with a couple of Premiership rugby union clubs before signing his new deal at Headingley.

Harry Newman Leeds

The NRL was an option too, until he penned for a further three-years.

He told Leeds Live: “I was honest with Leeds from the start and told the club I was going to look at my options and assess where everything was at.

“I had a couple of offers to go to the NRL and also rugby union as well.”

Leuluai honoured with captaincy

Thomas Leuluai will continue to captain Wigan in 2022, when the club will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

He told Wigan Today: “It is a big honour, but it’s the same for any season when you are asked to be captain.

“We’ve got a great leadership group to support us, and it’s definitely more of a collection than just one guy now.”

Excitement building at Warrington

Warrington have hit 5,000 members with more than a month to go until their first game.

Warrington Wolves fans in attendance at Salford

New coach Daryl Powell will hope to lead the Wolves to that elusive Super League title.

Writing in his Warrington Guardian column, chairman Stuart Middleton said: “We’ve hit 5,000 members already with a month and a half to go until the first game, which in these challenging times is fantastic and just shows the loyalty and passion of our fans.

“I’ve emphasised this previously but I’ve been incredibly impressed by Daryl Powell since he’s started as head coach.

“I caught up with him last week and he is loving his first month in charge and said it couldn’t have gone any better.”

Friendly off

Bradford will not re-arrange their pre-season friendly against Halifax at Odsal.

The game was postponed on Boxing Day less than an hour before kick-off due to snow.

Refunds will now be issued instead, reports the Telegraph & Argus.

More paper talk

Big Warrington decision the right one, French TV deal & stylish Toulouse can stay up

Paper Talk: Saints hungry for more & Channel 4 TV deal is a boost for Sky

Paper Talk: Calls for transfer window, ’embarrassing’ Belle Vue & World Club Challenge back on?

Support rugby league in the media and subscribe to League Express & Forty-20 magazine, as well as checking out the regular coverage of the sport in The Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian and other national newspapers; the more you read, the more there’ll be. Rugby league paper talk appears on the site every Monday.

About James Gordon 7233 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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