Castleford Tigers' Liam Watts calls for scrapping of Super League loop fixtures in 2021 to keep stars fresh for Rugby League World Cup

LIAM Watts has suggested that scrapping loop fixtures in 2021 will help Super League players cope with a shorter pre-season and allow the competition’s international stars to stay fresh for the Rugby League World Cup.

Monday, 13th April 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 12:17 pm
STAYING FRESH: Castleford Tigers forward Liam Watts. Picture: Chris Magnall/SWpix.com.

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has already called for the axing of loop fixtures this campaign – a sentiment that Watts agrees with – and the Castleford forward feels that Super League should be a 22-game regular season next year also.

Clubs across the league are set to have a shorter pre-season this winter, as Super League might not be able to host the Grand Final until November due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

With the World Cup due to be staged in England next autumn, Watts has warned about the impact that too many games could have on the players who will feature at the tournament.

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BREAK: Liam Watts in action against St Helens. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

“We could just do home and away with the games for next year because it is going to be a long campaign for the international guys afterwards,” said Watts, who is hoping to feature for England at next year’s World Cup.

“They are going to be playing up to 45 games in a year, that is a hell of a lot of impact on your body.”

Watts would prefer an expanded Super League competition, adding two more teams, over playing some clubs three times each season.

He continued: “I think for me the loop fixtures are ridiculous anyway. I think the RFL knows what every player thinks of them.

INTERNATIONAL: Liam Watts in action at the Rugby League World Cup 9s. Picture: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz /SWpix.com.

“At the end of the day, it should be a straight home and away. If they want to play more games put more teams into Super League, it is as simple as that.

“I think it can give teams an unfair advantage. Last year, we ended up playing the top four three times each.

“Some of the lower teams are then getting away with that. The games now should just be a straight shootout, home and away. The teams we have already played this season, we should only play them either home or away again.

“With the current loop fixtures, we are down to play Toronto three times. I know the clubs want more games for more revenue, but if they are willing to do that, bring in two more teams which adds four more games.

"Take it to a 14-team competition and make it a little bit stronger.”

This autumn’s Ashes series against Australia is under threat but Watts, who looked set to earn his first England cap under new coach Shaun Wane, hopes the games can still go ahead.

The NRL have committed to return to playing on May 28, leaving the door open for the three-Test series to take place.

Watts represented England at the Rugby League World Cup 9s last October and has previously featured for the England Knights.

He has never earned a senior cap but was included in Wane’s initial 31-man shortlist for the series against Australia.

“There is just always something that crops up,” said Watts of potentially seeing his wait for his England debut prolonged.

“It would have been awesome to get a Test series against the Aussies on home soil, so my family could come and see.

“It is the World Cup the year after and we have had a few letters and conversations with Shaun Wane, so he is keeping in touch still.

“He is giving his thoughts on what he wants to achieve and the standards of England.

“So I think that is really good, the steps that England are putting in. They are wanting to keep everybody on board and in the loop on what is expected on the field and off the field which is brilliant.

“A three-game Test series against the Aussies is probably what we needed to see what strengths we had in the team and what we had to work on.

“If this goes on any longer that will probably end up disappearing and then we would have a shorter pre-season going into next year.

“It is not ideal going into a World Cup year.”

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