Adam Cuthbertson: More than meets eye to getting exacting Easter schedule right

Ben Barba gets away from Luke Gale.
Ben Barba gets away from Luke Gale.
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LAST YEAR was the longest season I’ve had as a player.

Out of all the trial games, league matches, Challenge Cup ties, play-offs and the Grand Final, the time I remember as being the hardest was Easter and the second weekend when we played on Friday and Monday.

I am never for playing two physical rugby league games over a period of three or four days, but I am not going to be overly negative about Easter.

It is part of the sport over here, everybody knows it is coming and we are all in the same boat.

It is crucial to get this weekend right, not just on the field picking up two points.

Physically, as a squad, you have to get it right.

Brett Ferres.

Brett Ferres.

It is a time of the year when some teams get it drastically wrong and others do the right things and come out in good shape and they are the ones who go on to be competing in semi-finals and finals.

There is a lot more to it than just getting out there on Easter Monday and having a crack. It’s all about having a good strategy and doing the correct things recovery-wise.

How you play the game is also important. In the past we’ve tried to get out there and play as we normally do, with a big physical presence. But if there’s any weekend to display your talent and ability with the ball, it’s this one.

You can’t beat teams up on a Friday and then turn around and do it again three days later.

You can’t beat teams up on a Friday and then turn around and do it again three days later.

Adam Cuthbertson

I don’t believe it is possible. You have to be smart about how you play and that’s where I think teams can get it drastically right or wrong.

If they don’t get it right they put themselves in a lot of pain coming out of the Easter period.

Apart from the debate over how many games we play at Easter, the big story at the moment is about whether England’s game against New Zealand in Denver will go ahead.

NRL clubs don’t want to release players for it, so the mid-season Test is in doubt.

Stevie Ward.

Stevie Ward.

I think they should let the players go.

Not releasing them would be disrespectful to England and New Zealand and the international game.

The NRL clubs allow players to play in State of Origin, which gives everyone who’s qualified something to play for in the middle of the season and there’s no reason why they can’t do the same for the Denver Test.

They should be allowed to go and play, out of respect for the countries involved and to help grow our sport internationally.

I saw something on Twitter suggesting that if the Test gets cancelled, the Exiles game might be brought back as a replacement.

I hope it’s not instead of the Test in America, but I am all in favour of seeing the Exiles revived and I’d be first in the queue, putting my hand up to play.

There’s a whole bunch of ex-pats over here, from Australia, New Zealand and France and it would give them all something to play for. It is a great idea and I think all the boys who are eligible would be up for it.

It would be a great way for England to get a game under their belt at a high level.

There’s a strong presence of overseas players in Super League at the moment and they would make a quality side.

Ben Barba, for example would be a massive attraction.

I also think it would be an incentive for players who haven’t had much rep’ football if they are thinking about coming over here.

The chance to play in a big game against England might help make up their minds.

I know people will say ‘it didn’t work last time, so why bother?’. But, like I’ve been writing about for the last few weeks, it all comes down to marketing.

With such a great product, if you market it right it will work. England versus the Rest of the World is an exciting concept and I think, if it’s done right, a game like that should easily get a crowd of 20,000.

I wouldn’t use it as a development project, I wouldn’t take the game to somewhere like Coventry, which they did in the Four Nations a couple of years ago.

I would make it a reward for the die-hard fans in the north.

The chance to watch Super League’s best Aussies and Kiwis teaming up to take on England in the middle of summer would be a big attraction, and it’s something the whole game could get behind.