FROM WHAT I have seen so far this season, I think the future is in good hands.
One thing I’ve really noticed is the number of young, British players beginning to make their mark in Super League.
I think Wigan, ourselves, St Helens and Warrington lead the way in youth development, but most teams now have at least a couple of youngsters who look to have a very big future and that can only be a good thing for the game.
I have spoken about this before, but with the salary cap in the NRL and the money available to players over there, the days of very high-profile Aussies coming to play in Super League are probably over.
Clubs are realising that and across the board in Super League they are working hard on junior development, but it is not a quick-fix.
It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years for players to come through the system into the first team and clubs, coaches and fans have to be patient.
When young players come into the team you have to be prepared for them to make mistakes, due to inexperience.
You have to do that to learn and improve and it’s important a young player isn’t written off because he makes a blunder or two.
It’s sometimes difficult for coaches to introduce young players, because if it goes wrong it’s the coach whose head is on the chopping block and any coach is under pressure if his team lose a few games.
I think Shaun Wane, at Wigan, is a prime example of a coach with the right attitude to young players and with confidence in what they can do.
He has coached at academy level and that probably has a bearing, but he is willing to give young kids a chance and to stick with them.
He puts faith in the young talent being produced by the Wigan system and as we found out last week, it very rarely lets him down.
Wigan have some very good young players on their books, who are going to be big stars for a lot of years to come.
Just naming a few, Sam Powell has had a good amount of game time, Joe Burgess has done really well this year and I like the look of George Williams, who played at hooker last Saturday.
He is probably more of a scrum-half, but to mix it in the forwards in a big game like that, against some very experienced players, says a lot about his potential and his self-belief.
It is not just Wigan. Tommy Makinson and Adam Swift are established at Saints now and have both started the year very well, for example.
But the young player who has really stood out for me this year is Daryl Clark, at Castleford.
He might not be thought of as an emerging talent because he has been around for a few seasons, but he’s only 21 and still got so much potential in him.
From what I’ve seen playing against him or watching him, he has got pretty much everything it takes to be a top-class No 9.
And I think with players like him coming through, there’s definitely a lot to be excited about.
LEEDS RHINOS never forget a player’s birthday.
Phil Daly, our media manager, puts something on Twitter and our conditioner Jason Davidson makes sure there’s a cake and a bit of a happy birthday sing-song at training. But even if they did forget, I don’t think I’d throw my toys out of the pram and want to leave.
The story that Yaya Toure, the Manchester City captain, might ask for a transfer because the club didn’t wish him happy birthday had me shaking my head. They have just won the Premier League, they will be getting things in place for pre-season and the next campaign and I am sure there’s 101 more important things going on behind the scenes right now.
It seems to be his agent saying the club didn’t show him enough respect, but I think it has only made the pair of them look a bit silly. In my eyes Manchester City show Yaya Toure plenty of respect by paying him something like £100,000 per week.
I don’t know what they expected the public’s reaction would be, but to me it just proves Toure and his agent are disconnected from reality.
IT IS a big game tonight, no doubt about that. We are always disappointed when we lose.
We did put a lot of effort in against Wigan last week and we got ourselves back into the game in the second half.
We could maybe have snatched it towards the end, but it wasn’t to be and we had no complaints. Wigan were better over the 80 minutes and deserved to win.
Tonight we want to try and get a better performance, as well as the two points. We are at home again and, on the back of a defeat, we are itching to get out there.
The boys were a little bit deflated early in the week, as usual after a defeat, but training has been good and we are ready to get back on the horse.
It isn’t going to be easy against Hull, because it never is. It’s a tough, intense battle every time we play them and they will be talking about coming to Headingley and kick-starting their season.
They are on a tough run and they’ll know they need to pick some points up soon. It’s very congested around the middle of the table and if you lose a few games you can drop out of the top-eight, which is what’s happened to them.
They will be looking at the next six weeks or so as a period when they want to pick up some wins to get themselves back into a good spot for the play-offs.
It is a big challenge for us and it’s coming a week after a very tough, physical battle.
We were bashed about a bit last week and everybody will have been feeling a bit sore and tired for a couple of days after Saturday’s match.
But Hull will be feeling the same following their derby against Hull KR and I think once the whistle blows tonight both sets of players will get stuck in.
It will be Gareth Ellis’ first game back at Headingley and I hope he gets a good reception. I have been fraternising with the enemy this week – I had a game of golf with him – and I know he’s really looking forward to it.
He is a bit frustrated and disappointed with Hull’s recent results, as I am sure everybody at the club is.
But he believes in his teammates and in what their coach Lee Radford is doing and he’s confident as soon as they get a result or two they will turn their season around.
I would like to see Gaz do well because he is a good friend, but from my point of view I hope their revival starts next week and not tonight.