Super League focus needs to be on the pitch not off it, says Wigan Warriors director Radlinski

New Super League CEO Robert Elstone
New Super League CEO Robert Elstone

Kris Radlinski hopes Super League fans’ focus will switch to the action on the pitch in 2019.

Wigan Warriors claimed the title last season against a backdrop of discussion off the field, where competition structure and the fixture calendar dominated conversation as attendances fell.

Catalans Dragons’ Challenge Cup Final win over Warrington was watched by the lowest attendance at the decider since World War Two, while the Grand Final attendance of 64,892 was the lowest since 2009.

But Warriors rugby director Radlinski says he has already noticed a difference since new Super League chief executive Robert Elstone started his role back in June.

“It’s been a fair old six months with what has happened,” said Radlinski.

“Robert Elstone has got his staff sorted and got his staff in place. One thing I’ve found is communication from Super League to the clubs is far greater than I’ve seen.”

Former Everton CEO Elstone said his aim was to use his Premier League experience “investing and improving” what the competition offers – and Radlinski hopes a shift in attitude can see that happen.

“I do feel it’s a big year for Super League, and hopefully we can all look at it positively,” he said.

“I’m hopeful, what we should be talking about on a daily basis are the incredible athletes who are unrivalled in sport in my mind, and not the chief executives.”

Already there has been some cause for celebration thanks to action on the field though.

Away from Super League, the season finished on a high for UK rugby league fans, and in front of terrestrial TV audience, with England impressing in two of their Test match against New Zealand to secure a Series win. And the second-string England Knights won one of their two matches against Papua New Guinea in October and November with Warriors Tom Davies and Sam Powell in tow, giving Radlinski high-hopes for the future of international rugby league.

Radlinski said: “We’re very much a glass-half-empty sport, when we need to look at the positives.

“The things with the internationals was fantastic – not just England, but the Knights as well.”