Talking RL: Derby doesn’t need prize - or provocation - to be great

Joe Burgess in derby action earlier this year
Joe Burgess in derby action earlier this year
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Depending what happens at Headingley tonight, the derby may or may not take on greater significance.

If Leeds lose to Castleford, Wigan have a golden chance to move two-points clear at the top of the ladder if they get the win at Langtree Park tomorrow night.

And a win wouldn’t seem beyond Cas’, if Leeds really are suffering a Challenge Cup hangover (they’ve lost two games since Wembley; last year, they lost all four matches after the final).

But Shaun Wane is right – that’s all window-dressing. There doesn’t need to be a prize at stake to make a derby.

And it doesn’t need provocative words from Jon Wilkin to get Wigan motivated!

The long-standing passions which exist between these two rivals should ensure it goes off with a bang – whether it makes an impact to the top-four or not.

St Helens have a strong front-row but man-for-man, Wigan look better-equipped.

And given the Warriors haven’t won a non-Easter derby at St Helens since 2003 – when Mike Gregory was in charge – it would be fitting if it was another proud Wiganer who broke that run.

The 2015 season isn’t yet over and, already, I’m being told Catalans will be the team to beat next year.

Really?

I thought this season – with Australian internationals Willie Tonga and Todd Carney on board – was going to be the season they mixed up the Grand Final race!

Sure, they’ve recruited heavily for next year – but don’t forget who they are losing. Glenn Stewart is coming in, but they are losing their brilliant forward Zeb Taia. 
Richie Myler is going to France from Warrington, but is he better than departing Scott Dureau? Iain Henderson, Elliot Whitehead and Michael Oldfield have also been good enough to secure NRL deals next season... are the players they bringing in that much better? I’m not so sure.

I WILL follow the rugby union World Cup.

I’m proud Wiganers Andy Farrell, son Owen, Shaun Edwards and Paul Stridgeon are involved.

I’m hoping Sam Burgess makes an impact.

And I wish people would start calling it ‘rugby union’!

One reader tells me they copyrighted the ‘Rugby World Cup’ in 1986, so does that give them ownership of the word ‘rugby’? And does it mean all other media outlets have to follow suit, and not call the sport by its full name?

Sure, we all know union is bigger and richer than league. I’ve no problem with that.

But the way they refer to themselves as ‘rugby’ smacks of arrogance. They may not like it, but they are a code of the sport – not the sport itself.

THOSE predicting a ‘player drain’ in wake of Jarryd Hayne’s success in the NFL are forgetting one important fact.

League players get offered truckloads of cash to switch to union.

American Football didn’t offer Hayne a dime.

Sure, he’ll coin it in now he’s made the 49ers’ squad – but when he quit his lucrative NRL contract, he had nothing on the table. He had to earn his NFL deal the hard way.

Will others be prepared to take that risk?

I WAS honoured to write Adrian Morley’s autobiography. With so many interesting, controversial and funny stories, it was easy to do.

But there was one story I missed.

When Moz confirmed his retirement last week, Jamie Peacock paid this tribute: “As tough a player as he is, it’s his humility I respect most. That, and the ability to drink three pints of Guinness in less than 30 seconds.”

Moz confirmed the story, saying he achieved it in 24 seconds for a £50 bet in a GB camp. There it is; proof he does have super-human powers!

When he hangs up his boots (still black, those boots) the sport will lose its last remaining playing tie to the pre-Super League era. Many better judges than me have paid tribute to Moz’s playing career.

And if Ellery Hanley says he’s one of the greatest ever, well... that’ll do me.

Moz is also one of the nicest, kindest, grounded and humble fellas you could ever wish to meet.

A true great.

A TIP of the hat to Warrington’s Tony Smith, for talking sense – and providing some perspective – to those clubs saying a reserve competition is too expensive.

Wigan, Warrington and other leading clubs have felt forced to set up their own competition because other outfits voted against it, citing expense.

That’s despite the fact the current system – an Under-19s with dual-registration – has left players aged 20 and over with nowhere to play since July.

“It’s not going to cost anywhere near what some are reporting,” said Smith.

“To put it into perspective, it’s probably less than a cheap overseas player.

“He might give you a minimal return, whereas this could have a huge return for the club and the future of the game.”

Here, flippin’, here!

TIRED of hearing the same old cliches from players, Australian magazine Rugby League Week magazine printed a translation guide to suggest what they really mean. Here’s an excerpt from the funny list:

“He’s been training the house down.” - Good trainer. Can’t put it together on the field.

“We’re just taking in one game at a time.” - We’re no chance of making the finals.

“The ball bounced their way.” - They fluked it.