Super League talking points: Leon Hayes form, Nene Macdonald, Hull KR star for England?

Aaron Bower

It’s been another busy weekend in Super League, with five games providing no shortage of discussion on a plethora of fronts – including, once again, talk around disciplinary proceedings.

Here’s Love Rugby League’s round-up of the weekend’s action – with one talking point from every Super League game.

Is Elliot Minchella England-bound this year?

Two wins from two for Hull Kingston Rovers: and another eye-catching display from their new captain. The biggest talking points this year surrounding Elliot Minchella’s game have been how he’s been in the thick of disciplinary incidents: both Franklin Pele and Sam Lisone have been carded after tackles on Minchella in the opening two rounds. But that shouldn’t overlook two very impressive displays from the Hull KR man.

Minchella’s career trajectory has been an unusual one but he is now firmly among the best forwards in Super League – and you wonder just how close he is to entering the conversation in regards to Shaun Wane’s England plans. Defensively brilliant and hugely influential to Rovers’ attack, Minchella is one of a clutch of loose forwards who may well be in contention later this year.

Is Leon Hayes ready to start for Warrington?

Friday night certainly suggested he could be. The young half-back has been tipped for a bright future at the Halliwell Jones Stadium ever since his emergence into the first-team, but he has found opportunities hard to come by.

However, Hayes will get an extended run to show his ability to Sam Burgess now with George Williams out injured: and his first run-out of 2024 offered plenty of hope he can deliver. In and amongst the chaos of Nu Brown’s shambolic red card, Hayes put in an accomplished display as the Wire got their season up and running. It seems Burgess has a genuine option and competition for both Williams and Josh Drinkwater: with the added bonus that Hayes is one of their own, too.

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Cause for optimism at London Broncos?

Yes, this is going to be a chastening season on the field for London Broncos, it seems. But there are certainly shoots of optimism off it if Friday night is anything to go by.

The biggest crowd to watch the Broncos for a decade assembled in Wimbledon on Friday: and this, without an away following of note to speak of too, given how they were facing Catalans Dragons. Over 5,000 people watched London – a sentence which in itself brings a smile to the face. Of course, the likelihood is that the Broncos will be back in the Championship next season but if they can retain a core of this new following, the future may well look brighter on and off the field in the capital.

St Helens’ back-row stars

It is safe to say Matt Whitley has hit the ground running as a St Helens player. Whitley has been outstanding in his first two games back at his hometown club, where he was released as a teenager. But his back-row partner has also been absolutely superb in their first two victories, too.

It’s fair to argue that we haven’t quite seen the best of Curtis Sironen yet – but the early signs for 2024 look extremely promising. Sironen and Whitley have been exceptional in the Saints’ wins against London and Huddersfield: and with plenty of competition for spots elsewhere in Paul Wellens’ squad, the second row looks fairly locked down at the minute.

READ NEXT: Matt Whitley already looks at home in a St Helens side seamlessly into their groove

Nene starts with a bang at Salford

Salford are up and running for 2024 and while the off-season revolved mostly around big-name departures, the early signs suggest they have made at least one eye-catching addition in Nene Macdonald.

The PNG international has begun life at his new club in blistering form, with two strong displays to suggest he can make a big impact at a Salford. Oh, and we’ve done a deep dive on his start at the Red Devils, too..

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