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The Liam Farrell column: ‘Other sports have crept ahead of us’

Robert Elstone was unveiled to the media this week
Robert Elstone was unveiled to the media this week

Super League’s new chief executive, Robert Elstone, was announced to the media this week. I wish him all the best and I hope he can grow the sport, like he wants.

The reality is other sports are growing and getting bigger, in terms of their crowds and profile. There are some sports which were below us, creeping above rugby league, and it’s not nice to see.

One of the major talking points was what the competition structure will be like next year, and whether to ditch the Super-8s or not.

I look at it from a player’s point of view.

We’re not footballers, we have bills to pay, and I think the Super-8s – with four clubs at risk of being relegated – is not a nice thing for them to go through.

I’m sad to see Joel Tomkins leave us.

For a bloke who has been here for a long time, he’s probably disappointed he’s not had the chance to finish his career here at his hometown club.

But things change and a mistake on his part, something which was completely out of character, has cost him.

Though it’s led to him leaving, I don’t think he will be seen in a different light by anyone at the club, or anyone who knows him.

We all know he’s an absolute top-bloke.

And when you think about what he has achieved at the club, becoming the No.1 back-rower in the country before he left – and then cracking the England rugby union team – he can be proud of what he has achieved here.

Three defeats in a row has made it a tough month for us, but I’ve been involved in loads of spells like this in the past, and I speak for all the players when I say no-one here is panicking.

We’ve been consistent all year, and even up until this sticky spell, the two losses – at Saints and Warrington – could have gone either way. In the last three matches, we’ve been down on our game. Warrington, Wakefield and Hull KR are tough places to go any time, especially if you’re off your game, and we’ve found that out.

But we’ve had a few days off, everyone has come back in feeling fresh, and there’s a different feeling about the training ground – it’s re-energised – and we’re all looking forward to Saturday’s match at Hull FC. Sadly, I won’t be involved, I’m out for a couple of weeks with an ankle problem, but I’ll be hoping the lads can get the job done.

It goes without saying we’ll need to cut out some of the dumb things we’ve been doing if we are to beat Hull.

They have coped with their injuries, they have some quality middles and Jake Connor has gone really well this season. He’s obviously someone who gets under players’ skins, and some bite to it, but he has the skills and he fully deserves his call-up to the England squad.

There are two other new faces, Tommy Makinson and Luke Thompson – they fully deserve their spots, too.

Mentioning St Helens, one of their former players, Joe Greenwood, will be joining us from later this month.

I don’t know him, but he was a handy player at St Helens – he runs a good line for a forward – and it’s been a while since we’ve had a big, rangy back-rower like that. 
When I saw us linked with him, I hoped we could get him on board.

Once he gets into our structures, I think he’ll go well for us. I’m looking forward to welcoming him on board.