Talking RL: The bare facts of teams down to the bare bones

If one more player had been missing from the Warriors squad which took on Hull FC last Friday, Shaun Wane would have been forced to give a debut to an academy-product.
Dan SarginsonDan Sarginson
Dan Sarginson

Funny, isn’t it, how some are talking about other teams being down to the bare bones without mentioning Wigan?

Maybe it’s because they’ve been winning their games, while others haven’t coped as well.

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But if you listen to some observers, you could be forgiven for thinking champions Leeds are not only depleted, but in crisis, too.

What nonsense.

When I see a squad with Hall, Hardaker, Watkins, Burrow and Cuthbertson - plus recruits Galloway and Ferres, both internationals - I don’t see a team which looks weak.

And when I look at their recent results, I don’t see a side struggling.

Since their World Club Challenge when they were level with North Queensland at half-time, they’ve lost on goal-kicks to Catalans - at their Perpignan fortress - and beaten Huddersfield.

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If that’s vulnerable, I can’t imagine what formidable looks like!

All of which tells me tomorrow’s game at the DW should be a tight encounter.

When it comes to serving up epics, these two have plenty of previous.

Wigan are not yet firing on all cylinders but, perhaps ominously, they have still won all four of their games against strong opposition.

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So early in the season, it’s pleasing to see them get points in the bank - especially given their history of slow-starts, and considering the key players missing.

But they can’t keep scraping wins, and the Grand Final rematch against the Rhinos may just be the fixture which sharpens their focus and attack.

A week after some were calling for the Super League salary cap to go up, Wakefield chairman Michael Carter provided a sobering reminder about the financial health of some of the clubs.

He confirmed Wakefield weren’t spending up to the current wage ceiling of £1.825m a year.

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“We haven’t got someone that’s willing to throw £250,000 or £600,000 away year on year like two other clubs have,” he said.

I’d love Super League to be in a position where it could raise its cap, but it isn’t.

And when it has got some extra cash, I’ll repeat my previous pleas: sort out the reserves, first.

I’m not sure when the bosses at the RFL began their investigation into Salford’s salary cap, but I imagine it was following Tony Puletua’s employment tribunal last autumn.

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He told the hearing he had two contracts – one with the club, and a separate deal worth about £50,000 with another of Marwan Koukash’s companies.

“If he wasn’t trying to get around the salary cap then why didn’t he put the salary on my contract?” Puletua said as he was grilled in evidence, with RFL representatives watching on.

Salford’s charge of breaching the £1.825m wage ceiling raises some interesting questions. If Puletua’s claim was true, was it an isolated incident? Or was it more widespread?

And here’s a poser for you – if they are docked 20 points, what happens if the Red Devils don’t accrue that many points before the Super 8s begin?

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Remember, all teams in the second-tier - the ‘Qualifiers’ - start on zero points.

Would Salford start on scratch with the rest, or would any left over points deduction carry over?

Marwan was set to stage a press conference today and, from his messages on Twitter, appears calm about the whole controversy.

But it’ll be an interesting one to follow.

The interest from the NRL in Dan Sarginson is very real.

And that should be no surprise. He’s young, strong, and has a great step on him.

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But if he decides to leave Wigan at the end of the season, I think many will find it easier to accept. Why? Because recent history has taught us to.

If Pat Richards had never left, we would never have seen Joe Burgess.

If Burgess had not gone, Dom Manfredi would probably be kicking his heels in frustration right now.

I dare suggest George Williams wouldn’t have won Super League Young Player of the Year – and England honours – last season if Blake Green had extended his Wigan stay.

It’s the way it works. And if Sarginson decides to go – and it is an ‘if’ at this point – Wigan look like they have a ready-made replacement in 19-year-old Oliver Gildart.