Talking RL: '˜Everyone is asking who will be promoted. They should be asking...'
While the final round of the Super League Super-8s is dead-rubber across the board, the same can't be said in the Qualifiers.
Only Halifax and relegated Widnes have nothing to play for.
The other six are either looking to secure their place in the top-three - and with it, a place in Super league next year - or grab a spot in the high-stakes, ridiculously-named promotion play-off, the Million Pound Game.
For a reason I can’t work out, this week’s final round games are staggered from Thursday to Sunday, rather than all being on at the same time.
If results go as I’d expect then Leeds, Salford and Hull KR will finish in the top-three, and Toronto will face either Toulouse or, perhaps more likely, London for the other spot in 2019’s top-flight.
In all the excitement and uncertainty, is it negative to ask whether Toulouse and London actually want to get promoted right now?
And if so, do they have the facilities for Super League?
And if not, do they plan to get them up to scratch in time for next season?
It’d be nice to know before the Million Pound Game.
Wigan Warriors may be playing at the Nou Camp next year. Yes, you read that right.
Catalans have been invited to take a home match to the iconic Barcelona venue next summer – and they want it to be their fixture with the Warriors.
What a great occasion that would be.
The Dragons drew a crowd of 18,000 when they last took a game with Warrington to Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium - their highest ‘home’ attendance since their entry into Super League.
Winning the Challenge Cup has presented them with a great chance to kick-on and grow in their region.
Parading the trophy at Barcelona’s game last Sunday - in a match against Gerona, a Catalonia city - was great.
And staging a fixture on the turf where Messi and so many others have cast their legacy would be a huge coup.
And the easier travel routes – Perpignan is a pain to get to – and the appeal of visiting the Nou Camp would, I’m sure, appeal to thousands of Wigan fans.
Let’s hope it happens.
Tweet of the week goes to Canberra-bound John Bateman.
Having read about the possibility of Wigan playing at the Nou Camp, he wrote: “ Is there such a thing as being loaned out from an NRL club to Super league for one game next year by any chance.., just asking for a mate.”
It’s pleasing to see Widnes are already planning for next season.
They intend to stay professional and bid for promotion back to Super League in 2020.
Good. Too many of our big-name clubs have been heavily rocked by relegation.
Unlike many clubs, Widnes invest a lot of effort and resources into their junior set-up. I wish them all the best.
Friday’s match will be a double-header, with the Under-19s hosting their Grand Final before the Warriors’ match with Hull FC.
For some, it will be the last game in which they qualify for the U19s.
Next year, the likes of Samy Kibula, James Worthington and Oli Partington will be too old.
Let’s just hope the authorities come good on their promise of resurrecting a real reserve competition next season.
Tom Davies said the RFL couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery at times - and he’s right.
Currently, it’s up to Super League clubs whether they want to develop young players or not. Some don’t bother at all.
At a time when it has become harder and harder to attract quality overseas players, I find it shocking and dishearting that the pathway from academy to first-team has been allowed to erode over the last few years.
Congratulations to Micky McIlorum on being named Catalans’ player of the year.
It’s great to see him doing so well in the south of France.
In the talks about whether to introduce new rules for 2019 – shot-clock, golden point, reduced subs – I’d like to suggest one is ditched.
The free-play was well-intended and, when it comes off, can be thrilling.
Trouble is, it rarely does come off.
Far too often it only leads to a longer break as players trudge to form the scrum – the exact type of ‘dead time’ the authorities want to get rid of next season.