I WILL be cheering for the Brits this weekend.
Warrington, Wigan and Saints are fierce rivals of ours in Super League, but when it comes to the World Club Series, I am right behind them.
Obviously I – like all the Leeds boys – wish I was playing in what I think will be a fantastic competition.
I love playing in the big games and it is always huge when you go up against any Aussie team. It’s nice to have a weekend off, but it’s bitter-sweet because three Super League teams are getting an opportunity to go up against some of the best players in the world and we’re not involved.
World Club Challenges have provided some of the best moments of my career – particularly 2005, when I scored a try at Elland Road – so I am a bit jealous of the boys who will be featuring tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
I am very proud of having been world champion three times and it’s something I want to have some more shots at before I eventually hang up my boots.
It’s a new thing this year with three clubs from each competition involved and it will be interesting to see how that goes.
I like the concept and I think it’s a big step forward. In rugby league we need to create more interest in the international game and both Super League and the NRL should do all they can to promote it.
We need to make rugby league stronger and one of the best ways to do that is to expand the game internationally and make it better known around the world.
In Australia they see the NRL and State of Origin as the pinnacle and everything else has to play second fiddle.
Over here we haven’t done as much as we should have to build on the success of the 2013 World Cup, but it does look like Super League wants to push the World Club Series and make it as big as possible.
The next step must be to stage the Series in Australia or New Zealand. It would be great for some Super League clubs to get the opportunity to go Down Under and test themselves and experience everything that goes with touring.
At the moment, unless you are picked for England you don’t get that opportunity, so it would be great to see more players get chance to do that and I think it would benefit our competition as a whole. The Aussie clubs and fans would have to get behind it, but I really think it could take off.
This year, other than South Sydney, the top NRL clubs aren’t taking part, but I think that will come with time. In the future it would be good to see both Grand Final teams joining in, along with maybe the highest other team on the league table.
As it gains in prestige more clubs will want to take part, but it is a decent starting point. St George and Brisbane are fantastic teams and they will be proud of representing the NRL.
All the factors are in the Super League clubs’ favour, with the game being played over here and the Aussies still being in pre-season, whereas we’re already two rounds into our competition.
But Australian teams are always strong and they will want to come over here and show us Brits who’s boss.
It is a shame Sam Burgess won’t be involved, but there’ll be some fantastic, world-class players on show, like Benji Marshall and Greg Inglis, who we don’t get to see very often over here.
I will be watching all three games and hoping for three wins out of three. I think all three Super League clubs have a real chance, but they will have to be on top of their game, be disciplined and clinical with the ball and get things right defensively. The game at Saints is already sold out and I’m sure there’ll be big crowds at Warrington and Wigan as well, which will help the home teams.
It would be great to see Super League win all the matches, but what we really want is three competitive, entertaining games to show the neutral viewers who don’t usually watch our sport just what we have got to offer.
WE’RE HAPPY with the start we’ve made so far, having played two potentially tough matches and come away with four points, so that’s pleasing.
It was a bit scratchy at Hull KR, but we got the job done, and, in the end, it was a dominant performance against Widnes, though we had to work hard before we pulled away.
We’ve been using our unwanted week off wisely, trying to fix a few things up for the Huddersfield game in six days’ time. The next six weeks are pretty vital. After Huddersfield we’ve got Hull, Warrington, Wigan and a trip to Catalans, so it is a big period for us and we’ve got to make sure we are in good shape.
We feel like we are doing some good things, but we want to continue to keep improving and getting better.
There’s a lot of positives, but also a lot still to work on if we are going to be consistent and keep playing well.
The next game, against Huddersfield, will be a big test, because they are our bogey team. I can’t remember the last time we beat them and they always seem to raise their game against us. They’ve lost two out of two, so they’ll see it as a good opportunity to get off the mark. It will be a good, physical game and I am excited about it and looking forward to getting back on the field.
Finally, congratulations to two of our front-rowers, Andy Yates and Robbie Mulhern.
Andy has had a tough time since he joined us in 2013, with a couple of serious injuries that meant he missed the whole of last season. I’ve seen how hard he works and how determined he is to be a success at Leeds; it was good for him to finally make his debut against Widnes.
Robbie’s another young lad with potentially a very big future in front of him. His new three-year contract and the No 25 shirt are a reward for his performances last year and the effort he put into pre-season and I wish him all the best.