I enjoyed a satisfying victory on Sunday evening after watching the somewhat disappointing Premier League double header in a big Manchester boozer. My usually tentative approach to the bar to request a channel change to the Super League was pre-empted by the barman asking “do you want the rugby league on too?”.
As a man used to receiving vacant stares in such establishments, this was a warming moment and reassuring of an appetite for the game. What followed was confirmation that Huddersfield Giants are this year’s outstanding team, a walloping Wakefield win securing the league leaders’ shield. So why are many still doubting the Giants’ now annual claims to being “the real deal”?
Paul Anderson has produced a fiercely resilient team with dazzling attacking options yet we are still questioning whether Huddersfield will hold sway in the playoffs. The simply answer is because they have yet to convince us otherwise. Huddersfield have hitherto failed to transfer their regular season promise into the knockout arena, and as harsh as it may seem to say this of a club celebrating finishing top for the first time in 81 years, until they prove playoff prowess this may continue.
The Giants now must stand tall on the road to Old Trafford if they want to be seen in the same light as Leeds, St Helens, Wigan and Warrington.
I seem to be in a minority of one when counting journalists who enjoyed the Tetleys Challenge Cup final. It was admittedly a game that failed to match the big occasion, but the very fact that it was, and is, such a huge deal had me buzzing throughout the afternoon. The quality was poor, the error-count high, but the atmosphere got me going, the fact that it stayed relatively tight kept it compelling, and it was sealed by a late try worthy of winning silverware.
Perhaps it worked better on radio than television as the noise was good and the knock-ons were not visible over the airwaves, but the feedback from the BBC was that it sounded like a fabulous game. It wasn’t, of course, but the sense of occasion ensured the magnitude of it was not lost on neutral 5 live listeners and colleague who don’t tip their toes into the rugby league waters too often.
It was another notch in Wigan’s record-breaking Wembley win column but was Sam Tomkins match-winning footwork also a Wembley farewell? Sam does incredibly well both to answer, and not get annoyed by persistent questions over his future. But there will come a point, either after the Super League season or the World Cup, that the England full-back will have to give the definitive answer over if and when he will be joining New Zealand Warriors.
I expect this to be Sam’s last season at Wigan before moving to the NRL, and I understand there is also interest in the club’s top try-scorer Josh Charnley from Down Under.
I’d like to finish this week with a quick word for Steve Prescott who has had us all a bit worried of late. Steve is currently under specialist care in Oxford and is confident of bouncing back from his latest setback and we all wish him the very best.