Stupid work, with it’s stupid time consumption. In the last few days some notable things have come up in the game and I haven’t been able to write about them… until now.
Widnes fired Steve McCormack after one competitive game this season. Jesus, that was quick! I feel sorry for McCormack but he was definitely on his last legs at the Vikings. Failure to win either of the NL1 Grand Finals he led them to (not to mention his two other Final defeats with Whitehaven) had left him with a reputation as someone who just couldn’t get over the final hurdle, and with Widnes hoping to make their case for a franchise impenetrable for next time around, losing 22-20 to Oldham in the first game of the Northern Rail Cup (a team in the division below) really wasn’t the best way to start the year.
Brian Noble wants Salary Cap dispensation to sign Rugby Union players. I shouldn’t need to explain why this is just stupid. The main point I would make is that it would take a shit-load of money to get any reasonable Union player into Super League, and I’m not sure where this would come from, and if it did suddenly become available would probably be better spent on League coaching and grassroots infrastructure. Don’t get me wrong, I would be very interested to see how many international Union players would go in Super League, but why would they leave Union? They would be swapping high-profile media coverage, a regular established international programme and a sport at which they have already proved themselves to be competent (not to mention the increasingly silly wages) for a lower-profile, possibly more demanding sport (it certainly would at least start off more challenging for those without any experience of League). I don’t see what they would stand to gain, and I doubt many of them would turn out to be value for money.
Gareth Ellis needs re-educating on the basics according to Tim Sheens. When you see one of Australia’s top coaches saying this about one of Super League’s top performers over the past few seasons, alarm bells start to go off in your head. I do think that the difference in standards between the NRL and Super League is overstated, and what we see between the competitions is a product of the difference in priorities (defence is paramount in the NRL, which is why it is more tolerant of wrestling at the tackle) but there can be little doubt that the basic standards of skill in Australia do seem natually higher. I hope whoever is in charge of coaching standards at the RFL is taking heed of this, because this sort of thing that drags down England’s international performances.