The Morning After: Class is permanent, fantastic Fages and a rugby league speed limit

James Gordon

Theo Fages (7) of St Helens during the warm up

Expected wins for Wigan and St Helens on Thursday night, though they didn’t have it all their own way.

Class is permanent

Wigan have been far from vintage in their opening two wins, but they have showed guts and at times class. The move from John Bateman to draw in his defender and feed Willie Isa, who in turn provided a lovely soft-hand pass for Jake Bibby’s first try, was a joy to behold, as was Bibby’s finish.

Ollie Partington (14) of Wigan Warriors celebrates his try with team mates

And then to finally break Wakefield’s resolve, a superb weaving run by Liam Farrell which was backed up in a classy, determined fashion by Zak Hardaker for a second moment of pure class to send the Warriors on their way to victory.

The French revolution

Theo Fages will be 31 when the 2025 World Cup takes place, hopefully in France if the talks this week come to fruition. He was at his majestic best in laying on the first try of the night for Jack Welsby, creating space with his footwork, attacking the line before getting an offload out and is getting better week after week. Given the increased focus on developing the French game, and an increasing number of young prospects coming through, a half-back partnership of the brilliant Fages and highly-rated Catalans youngster Cesar Rouge could well provide the platform for a monumental tournament on home soil.

How fast is too fast?

There seems to be a rule change each year designed to make the game even faster. Last year’s advent of the six-again rule has brought both positives and negatives. Noticeably, it makes games faster and the ball is in play a lot longer, especially with no scrums at present. But when does rugby league become too fast?

Joel Thompson (11) of St Helens is tackled by George Lawler (15) of Hull KR

After bravely defending their line for several sets, Hull KR were penalised for holding on in the tackle too many times, which resulted in George Lawler being sent to the sinbin, basically breaking their resolve. Does rugby league need to be played that fast, that holding on for a split second too long when the attacking team is five metres from the line and there’s a full set defensive line in place? It doesn’t add to the spectacle. Tackling becomes a war of attrition. It appears that all the lesser teams can hope to bring this season is guts and determination, because ultimately, the pace will eventually break them down.

REPORT: Wigan 34-6 Wakefield: Bibby hat-trick as Warriors run away in second half