Carl Ablett: It hurts to be out injured at a vital time of the season

Keiron Cunningham.
Keiron Cunningham.
0
Have your say

THIS IS a massively important time in the season. It’s usually when teams start to pull away at the top and get cast adrift at the bottom, so it hurts not to be involved.

I injured my knee last week and, at the time of writing, it looks like I’ll be out for about eight weeks. I am due to get it checked out today so I should have a clearer picture next week and I’ll give a bit more information then.

Jamahl Lolesi.

Jamahl Lolesi.

It’s tough because the next few games are vital. If we can win at Hull today and beat Widnes on Monday I think we will be in good shape.

Last week was a disappointing result, but performance-wise I thought we were pretty good.

As a group we were proud of the effort we put in – we had six players making more than 49 tackles.

We made 100-plus more tackles than Warrington did and it was a phenomenal effort from the lads to still be in the game with 10 minutes to go.

Sean Long.

Sean Long.

We’ve taken a lot of positives out of it, but over Easter you can’t afford to do too much defending, because it dips into your energy.

We have to be smarter and more controlled with the ball and if we are I don’t think we will be too far away from getting a couple more wins.

The big news this week was Keiron Cunningham being sacked by St Helens.

It shows the pressure clubs and coaches are under that St Helens have felt the need to sack a club legend like Keiron Cunningham, somebody who they erected a statue to outside their ground just a few years ago.

It’s difficult to imagine Saints without Keiron Cunningham or Keiron Cunningham without Saints, but hopefully he can stay in the game and find another role somewhere because rugby league can’t afford to lose quality people like that.

When things are going badly it is a lot easier to change one coach than a squad full of players, so that’s what usually happens.

The people in charge there have obviously seen enough to think they need to make a change, but I would have expected Saints to turn things around before too much longer.

They often seem to start slowly and then come good as the season goes on. Whenever we’ve played them since Cunningham was appointed coach they have always been a tough, well-organised team.

They have probably lost a few games this year they would have expected to win, but the way the league is now, everybody is going to have a few bad results.

Saints are always there or thereabouts and they were 80 minutes away from the Grand Final last year, but the format we’ve got now is putting more pressure on clubs and coaches.

Nobody wants to be in or around the bottom-four. Maybe if we didn’t have the split after 23 rounds Saints might have given him a bit longer to turn things around.

I think it’s a strange time to be making a change, in the week leading up to the big Good Friday derby at Wigan and ahead of the Easter pile-up.

If you are going to sack your coach you need to have somebody lined up who can come in and do a better job.

I’m not sure who Saints have in mind, but it’s probably a good opportunity for Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi to show what they can do. I’ve had three coaches at Leeds – Tony Smith, Brian McClennan and Brian McDermott. I’ve never been at a club when the coach is sacked and I imagine it’s a big change having that happen midway through the season.

It’s the man at the top who sets the philosophy of how you play and creates the systems and the environment and the culture around the team.

But I think players have to take responsibility because they are the ones out of the field, actually determining results. It’s going to be interesting to see how Saints get on at Wigan today.

I am sure they will want to show a reaction and it will be a dangerous fixture for Wigan, who are having a bit of a dip themselves.

It is a close competition and it doesn’t take much to turn things around and get back on track. If Saints win their next two matches they will be in a much healthier position and the crisis will be over.

So, I am surprised they didn’t wait until after Easter.

Star man, Danny McGuire. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Inside RL 2017 Awards: Influential McGuire signs off in some style – Peter Smith