Luke Gale: Super League being diluted as a spectacle through fixture and injury pile-ups

OBVIOUSLY I am gutted to miss a couple of games through suspension, especially with having not been back in the team long after injury.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 5:28 am
Liam Sutcliffe is back in the Leeds Rhinos squad to face Leigh Centurions. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Liam Sutcliffe is back in the Leeds Rhinos squad to face Leigh Centurions. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Looking back on the incident last weekend, it was one of those things, I lost my head a bit and the red mist came down.

I got kick-pressured and, as I fell to the floor, Ryan Lannon ended up on top of me and he pinned me down with a knee to my head.

The more I was struggling to get him off, the more he held down.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Rob Lui is back in the Leeds Rhinos squad to face Leigh Centurions. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

I just saw red and got up and threw a couple of punches.

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a punch on a rugby field before so it was out of character, but I did it and I’ll have to accept the punishment.

We’ve lost a few other boys from the Salford game, to injuries or suspension, so it’s not ideal and I’ll hold my hand up about that.

It’s typical of our season, unfortunately.

Callum McLelland is back in the Leeds Rhinos squad to face Leigh Centurions. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

It seems like every time we get some people back, we lose another couple.

Rob Lui and Callum McLelland have been named in the squad for this week after their pre-season injuries and Liam Sutcliffe is going to be back from Covid, which is good news and I don’t think Cam Smith is far off.

But, as well as the suspensions, Konny Hurrell got concussion against Salford and we’ve lost Richie Myler with a dislocated finger, so it’s one step forward, one step back.

We are in a tough period at the moment, with Leigh on Thursday, Warrington next Monday and Catalans the Friday after that.

I am especially gutted to miss the Warrington game; I was looking forward to that and they are playing well. It is the sort of game you want to be a part of. It is going to be tough, but we always knew it would be at this stage of the season and we have to dig in and get through it.

Most teams are in the same boat; there’s a lot of injuries across the league at the moment.

I was chatting to Paul McShane the other day and he was telling me Castleford had 12 or 13 fit players who were training for the St Helens game, which should have been on Thursday night, so I am not surprised that was cancelled. They couldn’t bring any young boys in because of coronavirus in their academy squad, so they had to forfeit the game.

It’s a tricky situation at the moment - with injuries and Covid - and I’d be surprised if we don’t get more matches called off this year.

Unfortunately, I think the game is being diluted which is quite concerning.

You want to field your best team most weeks, but I don’t think we’ve had the privilege of that all year and the injuries keep on coming. There’s a fixture backlog as it is so it is becoming a bit of a worry.

It was good to get the win last weekend and I thought we did a reasonable job after a month off, but it was a scrappy game and I don’t think it was a good spectacle.

We’ll have to be good on Thursday against Leigh. I know they are struggling for results, but they are going to get a win at some stage and they will throw a lot at us.

It’s at home though and we want to get a win for our fans. We’ve won twice since crowds were allowed back, but they were both away so it’d be good to give our home spectators something to cheer about.

I know the result wasn’t what we wanted, but I enjoyed last week with England.

We looked like a team who had trained once or twice, but it was a really enjoyable week, the lads were excellent and it was a great camp.

It’s a shame more wasn’t made of the England versus All Stars game. I would have liked it to have been a stand-alone fixture, so it didn’t clash with a Super League round. Speaking to the boys who were in the Combined Nations camp, they loved it as well. They had a great week in camp and it was a proper test.

I thought they had a great team and they played some good footy.

Obviously, the result was disappointing, but our boys enjoyed it and we will learn a lot from it.

We had a couple of late setbacks, losing Jonny Lomax and Alex Walmsley and the NRL boys weren’t there so I am sure we’ll be a lot better when we get together at the end of the season.

I just felt like, as a sport, we could have made it a bigger event.

It’s one I think we should keep; I like the concept and it was a real contest.