Wigan Warriors- Talking Rugby: The All Stars game should give England a decent run out before the World Cup
Wigan Warriors head into the international break on the back of a victory over Salford Red Devils.
Peet’s side gave an excellent account of themselves in the game at the AJ Bell Stadium.
They dug deep to take a 6-0 lead in what was a tight first half, before claiming complete control after the break.
It certainly highlighted just how fit and committed the current squad are, as they put in a great shift and looked relentless.
French stole the headlines with his hat-trick, and probably produced his best display of the season so far.
Him and Jai Field must be a nightmare for any opposition coach to prepare for.
Usually it’s a case of, if one doesn’t hurt you, then the other will.
On Friday night, they combined really well together to do some real damage, as they both raced up the pitch for French’s first try, for a perfectly executed break, which must’ve struck fear in the Salford defence.
They were among a number of strong performers for the Warriors.
Willie Isa put in a great shift at centre, filling in well for the injured Iain Thornley.
Meanwhile, Harry Smith seemed comfortable again, with him and the returning Thomas Leuluai able to control things in the second half.
The pack also played a big part putting the game in Wigan’s hands, with all four players off the interchange bench having a big impact when they came on.
Another player who always has an influence is Liam Farrell, with plenty more set to come from the 31-year-old.
Before the match, it was announced he had signed a new three-year deal with the club.
While it was probably something never in doubt, it was fantastic to have the news confirmed.
He’s been such a crucial player for the club, and is a true modern day great, with his influence on the side being clear to see.
He seems determined to help the club build on this season’s Challenge Cup victory, and is confident that with the current squad, Wigan can enjoy a strong period of success.
Super League takes a break this week, to make way for a mid-season international.
England take on the Combined Nations All Stars at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday evening.
This will be a repeat of last year’s fixture, in which Shuan Wane’s side were defeated at the same venue.
It felt like quite a strange concept, and was certainly a flashback to the old Exiles games.
The atmosphere for last year’s game felt quite strange from memory, but this year’s should be a good occasion.
It’s a concept that certainly makes a lot of sense.
There’s not too many other nations located nearby that could give England a fair test, in what is a short international window.
This is the best option for England to get a decent run out ahead of the Rugby League World Cup later this year.
It also gives Wane a chance to have a look at a few extra players for consideration, who may not be completely in his plans just yet.
As always it’s always good to see some Wigan faces in the squad, with Farrell and John Batman both included.
Former Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins will also once again captain England for the game, which is something very much deserved.
It was a shame to see Liam Marshall left out of the squad, with his recent form more than deserving of a place.
Hopefully if he continues his current run, he can force his way into Wane’s side come November.
Finally, a big story in rugby league this week has been Jacques O’Neill leaving Castleford Tigers in favour of a stint in Love Island.
It was certainly bizarre news and not something you would really expect to be a talking point.
Is this really the world we live in, where people would rather be reality TV stars than professional athletes?
Well, the money is probably better, even if your social status goes down massively.
It seems quite mad that the Tigers have been willing to release O’Neill from his contract for this particular reason.
It’s probably even more peculiar they have claimed the first option to sign him back, if the hooker decides to return to rugby league next year.
Would you really want someone back who has chosen Love Island over the club?
It would be interesting to see how other clubs would react in this situation, and how the fans feel as well.
Nonetheless, if this move is what O’Neill believes is best for him, then you can only wish him good luck.
His inclusion does highlight one of the major problems with Love Island as a show, and that is the protection of the contestants.
He is the ex-boyfriend of fellow contestant Gemma Owen.
Now, even if her reaction to that has been fine, she’s a 19-year-old girl, and the producers have potentially put her in an awkward situation just to boost their viewing figures.
Surely they have a duty of care to the people who go on, so doesn’t this seem like a careless move?
When we are so big on mental health nowadays, you’d think the show would take more care and avoid stunts like this.
Of course, this is the viewpoint of an outsider who doesn’t watch it, so in reality TV terms this could all be fine and acceptable.