Talking Rugby: Player welfare must be the main consideration when discussing the Easter period
The Good Friday Derby game probably provided a reminder to many of just how good St Helens are.
It is not by accident that they keep claiming the top prize.
They work extremely well as a unit, while also having individuals who can create moments of magic.
Wigan are heading in that direction as well, and have all the right building blocks, but they are still very early on in their journey.
For the opening period of the game it was an evenly matched contest.
The Warriors started with a lot of energy, and could’ve even had themselves a try in the early moments.
Jai Field did go over for the opener, but Saints truly put their foot down on the gas after that.
Of course, to lose against a close rival is a disappointment, but they are currently the benchmark in Super League who everyone else is trying to catch.
Despite the defeat, the day still remained an excellent occasion.
It has certainly been hugely missed throughout the last few years, and the atmosphere was electric, with the Wigan fans playing a huge role in that.
The two teams meet again in a few weeks time at Elland Road in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, where Matty Peet will be hoping his side can build on the Good Friday game and match their opponents for longer.
The matches against the likes of Saints and Catalans will be great tests for Wigan throughout this season, and a good way of seeing how they are growing and improving.
Something they’ve been able to do so far this campaign is overcoming the teams who they would be expected to beat.
Of course, sport and rugby league isn’t an exact science, anyone can beat anyone, and that's what makes it brilliant.
The fact that the Warriors haven’t had any slip ups against sides who are below them in the table or going through poor patches of form is really reassuring.
That brings us on to our second game of the Easter period against Wakefield, which could have easily been a banana skin with a few tired bodies on the pitch.
The performance and result was the perfect response to the previous game, and arguably the best display of the season.
In the two matches against Trinity, Wigan have performed superbly well.
At Belle Vue they had everything thrown at them, but still came away with a strong win, while at the DW Stadium they really showed some class.
The pack looked strong, and the flair players did their bit to produce a huge victory.
It was fantastic to see Bevan French go over for a brace in the victory, as game by game he is slowly getting back up to speed and finding his feet again.
His speed and acceleration was there to be seen, as space opened up for him to exploit.
For the first time, the danger of having French and Jai Field playing alongside each other was really apparent, and other Super League sides will be nervous at that thought.
Harry Smith also deserves praise for his performance, as he looked really mature while helping to pull the strings for the Warriors.
With Thomas Leuluai set to be out for a few months through injury, this could be a really big chance for the 22-year-old to cement himself in the team.
He always looked like a leader at academy level, and can certainly use the next period of the season to grow even more as a first team player.
While the flourish of games over Easter have been a great spectacle for fans, it’s hard not to think about player welfare.
A similar debate occurs in football over their Christmas schedule, where fixtures are just too congested.
It’s a tricky thing to go against tradition, but ultimately it’s something that needs to be debated with the players themselves.
Considering that the Super League season includes a number of loop fixtures, it’s not like these games desperately need to be crammed in.
The inclusion of them purely comes down to entertainment value, but can that really be the main consideration in such an intense sport?
Away from Wigan, Tony Smith has announced he will leave Hull KR at the end of the season.
This will be a huge loss for the Robins, with the former Warrington Wolves coach really doing a great job at Craven Park.
Reportedly, it is something that came as a surprise to his employers, as this was not something that was pre-planned by the club.
With five wins in nine games, it’s certainly been a good start to the season by Hull KR, and their fans will be hoping that Smith’s departure towards the end of the year won’t create a distraction.
Meanwhile, his nephew Rohan Smith has become the new head coach of Leeds Rhinos.
The Australian’s previous job in England was with Bradford Bulls in 2016, while he has also undertaken different roles with a number of clubs in his home country.
Knowing very little about him, it’s hard to predict how he will do with Leeds.
The hierarchy at the club must’ve been impressed and believe he is the man to put them back on track.
They do have the tools at their disposal, but it’s just about whether Smith is the right man to bring it all together.