Talking RL: We should take heed of moaning Marwan

Yesterday, Marwan Koukash explained why he felt Salford's six-point deduction for breaking the salary cap was wrong.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 3:26 pm
Marwan Koukash

He wants the punishment reduced.

He wants the case heard by an independent body.

He also thinks the ventures into France get unfair benefits.

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He also thinks the salary cap isn’t being monitored stringently enough.

He wants clubs to unite and overturn the RFL board.

He also wants...

The trouble with his rant at an hour-long press conference, just a day after publicly calling for a vote of no confidence in the board, is that so much gets lost.

He would have made more of an impact keeping to one or two points, rather than covering a sweeping range of topics ranging from rent costs to Canada.

If you want to blow a hole in the RFL hierarchy, use a bazooka, not a scatter-gun.

The only sympathy I have for Marwan over the salary cap breach is that there may well be other clubs breaking the rules whohaven’t been caught.Who knows? Hopefully the RFL, though how they police the cap thoroughly is beyond me.

I broadly agree with Marwan’s point that a shake-up is needed at the top of the game.

There’s an old saying that a team is only as strong as its reserves. Apply that saying to Super League and it exposes its weaknesses, because we don’t even have a real reserve league any more!

Super League appears content to be cruising along, almost like a reasonably well-run council, hitting targets and keeping within budgets.But I’d much rather see it run like UFC, or darts, or rugby union.

I’ve said it before, any sport trying to stay still – aiming to tread water – will only go backwards.

Why? Because it is operating against a tide of other sports which are growing, and all squabbling for attention, column inches, web hits, air-time and – yes – ticket sales.

Koukash said yesterday: “I look at the people leading us like Nigel Wood and Ralph Rimmer, and I look at what has gone on here and the lack of commercial income that they are generating – do I think they’re capable of taking us to the next level? I don’t think so.”

I’m not convinced, either.

There is no plan B for Salford. If Koukash walked away, the club would struggle without another millionaire benefactor taking over.

But even so, I wonder if RFL chief executive Nigel Wood ever regrets the day when – flying back from Dubai – he got chatting to the businessman next to him and encouraged him to get involved in rugby league.

That businessman, Marwan, seems determined to bring him down.

It’s a fact Wigan’s attack hasn’t fired this season.

The statistics are damning. They have been more pedestrian and predictable than pacey and panache.

Is it a concern? No. Not yet.

Because Wigan have had a centre at full-back for most of the season, and a forward at stand-off.

Now George Williams and Sam Tomkins are back in the side, I expect to see more sparkle once they have brushed off the rust.

I have no doubts they have the players around them – from Manfredi to Charnley, Gildart to Gelling – to inflict some damage over summer.

But it would be too simplistic to say Wigan were ‘poor in attack’ against Hull, because to do so would absolve forwards of any blame, when they were bullied down the middle.

Understandably, their display was widely dissected after Friday’s 30-16 loss, but in all the discussion something got overlooked.

Hull’s performance.

I thought they were well-drilled and aggressive, and while the tries they scored were soft – from a Warriors perspective – there was no doubting they were good value for the win.

It will be interesting to see if they can maintain their play-offs push in the second-half of the Super League season.

Pat Richards has managed to avoid controversy throughout his career, but for two rounds in succession he has been at the centre of it – thanks to his trusty boot!

Incredibly, almost laughably, he has twice kicked a goal and seen one touch judge raise his flag - and the other keep his down.

It’s easy to knock the RFL for everything they do wrong, so let’s give them praise when they get it right.

And the Magic Weekend is one of those occasions.

There was no shortage of scepticism when the concept was launched but, now in its 10th year, it has become a staple of the rugby league calendar.

When it started, there was talk of it being a tool to broaden rugby league’s appeal.

And to a small degree, it still does that.

But it’s mainly for the rugby league fans, a carnival for supporters to unite, take in a new stadium and new city, and enjoy a weekend away. I was a fan of Manchester’s Etihad – maybe because of the weather – but the atmosphere at Newcastle was probably the best yet.

The new Super League structure has put a greater importance on the games, especially for those at the bottom of the table.

And with some talented players across the league, I’m looking forward to some good, entertaining games.