YEP Jury: Our panel of fans look at the St Helens postponement and all things Leeds Rhinos
Our jurors have their say on the latest Covid-19 setback to hit Leeds Rhinos and all the latest rugby league matters.
I can’t begin to tell you how annoyed I am about Friday night’s scheduled Super League game against St Helens being postponed.
It has been 15 months now since I saw Leeds Rhinos play live.
In 25 years of watching Leeds, home and away, this is the longest I have been unable to watch them play live.
Despite my nervousness around the game and, it has to be said, the opposition, I had some hope based on our last performance against Castleford.
But that hope has disappeared on the basis of two players not being able to protect themselves from contracting Covid-19. As we also see, the Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants game has been called off, which leads me to question the game’s professionalism.
No other ‘national’ sport is seeing games cancelled?
A major European football tournament – Euro 2020 – starts across Europe on Friday.
Yet Leeds and Huddersfield can’t get a game on because of players catching Covid-19.
It was exciting to be able to watch the Women’s Challenge Cup final on the BBC last Saturday.
What an inspiration to all the young, future women rugby league players watching at home.
As Leeds Rhinos start to show some form, articles appear in the press about unrest at the club.
Kevin Sinfield moving to Leicester Tigers and the Rhinos trying desperate measures to persuade Jake Trueman to move to Leeds are just two of the stories.
I hope neither are true. Kevin and Richard Agar seem to work well together and are building a team that can challenge for trophies over the next few years.
If that includes Jake Trueman so be it but don’t upset other players to get him here.
Rhinos’ next opponents were due to be St Helens on Friday night before the game was called off today.
With players coming back from injury, team selection would have been an interesting dilemma for Agar.
After a week off, we would have been facing a real test this week. St Helens are the best team in the competition by some distance and are dominating in the same way Leeds once did.
They perform for 80 minutes at a high level and most teams cannot live with their intensity for long enough.
Leeds have not been able to string two or three games together of high intense, error-free rugby for several seasons now. Do we have the mindset, never mind the skill set to challenge Saints on a regular basis?
We’ll have to wait until the game is rearranged to find out.
The play-offs are a possibility but probably in fifth or sixth. That is where we are at and, to push on, we need, to put it simply, better players.
A world-class stand-off is needed. Many think the loss of Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock were the most damaging to Leeds.
I think not replacing Danny McGuire with a world star is proving our biggest mistake.
Our search and recruitment of a new stand-off is probably the biggest and most important decision we’ve had for a decade.
With us having no game last week, I decided to watch back a few of the games I’ve got saved on my Sky box and decided on Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s joint testimonial match.
With Rob being in the news last week with his BBC report being up for an award – I hope you all voted for him.
The atmosphere that day was something special and to see Headingley full with fans from all teams in the league was a joy to behold.
Also, there were scrums in the game, and I’d forgotten just how much a part of rugby these are.
The set plays that teams concoct from the base of the scrum are lost now with this new rule that has been brought in; it’s about time the scrum was brought back into rugby league, for me.
It’s one of the many defining things that make our game great.
It would have been a massive challenge this week with Saints in town but that will have to wait for another day now after today’s news that the game had to be called off owing to Covid-19.
First of all, I would like to congratulate Castleford Tigers and St Helens on reaching the Challenge Cup final; both semi-finals were crackers and I enjoyed them – as a neutral.
We were due to play St Helens this week which would have been a very tough match as they are arguably the best team currently operating in Betfred Super League right now.
Had it taken place, we could have had Cameron Smith, Tom Holroyd, Ash Handley and Bodene Thompson back in first-team contention which would have been good for us.
We are getting to a point in the season now where we need to get our game together and get some momentum rather than be off and on.
Hopefully this carries on when we do get back on the pitch following that great win against Castleford.
Let’s hope that these Covid-19 cases throughout clubs are just a small blip in the system and that we don’t suffer from a lot more cancellations of games.
This week would have marked the start of a tough couple of Betfred Super League fixtures for us; with St Helens on Friday, followed by Catalans Dragons away next week – but the Saints game fell victim to Covid today.
The trip over to France is always a difficult one and I can’t say I’m holding out much hope for a win there.
We played well against St Helens in the Challenge Cup back in April, and are in a better position with a stronger team now so, when we do play them again, we could maybe get the win.
There was talk of us having more players available at the end of May, which has obviously been and gone, so it’ll be interesting to see what the team selection is like when we do finally get back out on the field.