TV pick changed due to Wakefield pitch concerns

James Gordon
Be Well Support Stadium, Wakefield Trinity, Belle Vue. PA.

The game between Wakefield and Hull KR next week will no longer be broadcast live on Sky Sports, Super League has announced.

Due to the ongoing concerns over Trinity’s new pitch, the decision has been made to select another fixture to broadcast.

The game between Wigan and Salford at the DW Stadium will now be shown next Friday, March 24 (8pm).

A Super League statement said: “Sky Sports will show the Betfred Super League Round Six fixture between Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils on Friday week, March 24.

“This change from the originally scheduled fixture, between Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR, has been requested by the RFL and RL Commercial following the recent issues regarding the playing surface at the Be Well Support Stadium.

“The RFL and RL Commercial are grateful to all involved – the four clubs, and Sky Sports – for their co-operation, and stress that the Wakefield versus Hull KR fixture remains scheduled for the Be Well Support Stadium on March 24.

“But that remains subject to a pitch inspection early next week, so this change has been made to provide clarity for supporters, viewers and for Sky Sports.”

Wakefield pitch issues

The pitch at Wakefield was heavily criticised by Catalans coach Steve McNamara following the opening game of the season last month.

McNamara said: “It was a pretty tough game on a pitch that took skin of your legs. The boys there, their legs are red raw. It’s an issue. It’s an issue for Wakefield moving forward for their players.

“I haven’t seen anything like that before in terms of the blisters and blood that’s in there off that field there.”

The issues caused meant some Catalans players sat out their following game against Leigh.

It led to doubts as to whether their second home game, against Huddersfield, would go ahead – which it eventually did after a midweek pitch inspection.

Giants coach Ian Watson had called for Wakefield to forfeit the game if it couldn’t go ahead. Watson’s side eventually won 8-0, and he had no complaints about the pitch afterwards.

Watson said: “All the boys seem alright, no one is complaining about it. If anyone has a little bit of  a scratch then out medical team cleaned it all straight away so hopefully that settled anything done.

“Everyone has trained fully and no one was moaning or complaining, it’s been and gone for us.”

The new hybrid surface is part of the ongoing developments at Wakefield’s home ground.

Wakefield chairman John Minards spoke out about the situation amidst the controversy surrounding the Huddersfield game.

He said: “The pitch only went down in September and it doesn’t grow much during the winter months. Clearly we are not quite where we want to be at the moment, but it will continue to improve.”

While it will be a blow for Wakefield to lose a home TV fixture, it is an encouraging sign to see such proactiveness from the governing body at the start of the new IMG era.

Earlier on Thursday, it was announced that Oldham were making a return to Boundary Park, a significant improvement on their current home, another sign that the presence of IMG is driving greater standards.

Three live TV games

Next week’s Super League round six will see three games broadcast live on TV.

World champions St Helens travel to Huddersfield on Thursday March 23, live on Sky Sports, before Wigan and Salford go head to head 24 hours later.

Then the latest instalment of live rugby league on terrestrial television follows, as Leeds host Catalans at Headingley in front of the Channel 4 cameras on Saturday March 25 (1pm).