Five things we learned from this week #47

Darrell Griffin playing for Featherstone Rovers.

Wood leaves RFL

It’s been a big week for Nigel Wood. He left the RFL on Friday, much to the delight of most fans, before officially becoming the RLIF chief executive. He was never a particularly popular figure, but will hopefully do a good job managing our international game.

There’s plenty of candidates to replace him, with Kevin Sinfield, Eric Perez and even boxing promoters Barry and Eddie Hearn being thrown into the mix. I’d like to see Sally Bolton get the job. She was general manager of the 2013 World Cup and did a superb job, particularly with the promotional side of things which is where British rugby league is currently lacking. Whoever does takes the reigns, however, will hopefully bring with them a plethora of new and fresh ideas, which is exactly what we need to reinvigorate the game.

 

Wigan to lose another

After losing Anthony Gelling and Michael McIlorum last week, it seems Wigan could be losing another big name. Reports in Australia suggest that Kiwi prop Frank-Paul Nuuausala is on his way back to Oz, after apparently verbally agreeing to play for Western Suburbs, a semi-pro club who play in the Newcastle domestic competition.

If the move goes through then it’s obviously not ideal for Shaun Wane but his squad depth should cover it. New boy Gabriel Hamlin is more than capable of filling the ‘wrecking ball’s’ boots, while he may even back youngsters like Caine Barnes or Callum Field. All Wigan fans can hope for is that there’s no more big departures after this so close to the season.

 

All not as it seems with Griffin?

Featherstone announced their squad numbers on Friday but there was one big name missing. Darrell Griffin had been suspended, before yesterday being sacked for ‘serious breach of contract’. The former England international played three games for Morley Rugby Union reportedly without permission, however, the case may have now taken a dramatic turn.

Griffin’s brother, Hull FC star Josh, posted screenshots of alleged conversations between Darrell and coach John Duffy which appear to show the Rovers coach giving him permission to play. One text from Griffin, for example, reads “appreciate you letting me do it mate”, before Duffy replies “no worries mate”. Featherstone are yet to comment, but it seems this may not be the last we hear of this story.

 

Johnstone’s back!

Wakefield Trinity 30-4 Widnes Vikings

Wakefield’s friendly 62-0 thrashing of Halifax was made even better by the return of young winger Tom Johnstone. The 22-year-old scored a hat-trick in his first game since April after recovering from a serious knee injury.

After such a long period out he’ll be wanting to make up for lost time, especially when an England call-up arguably wasn’t too far away last year. After Sunday’s performance it seems as if he’s picking up where he left off too, which is a big boost for his teammates, coach and fans. Speaking of Chris Chester, his big dilemma now is keeping everyone happy, as his squad certainly isn’t short on depth.

 

Two Danny’s shine for KR

Danny McGuire made his debut for Hull KR on Sunday, putting in a competent performance in their 28-6 defeat of York in Ben Cockayne’s testimonial. It was his namesake Danny Addy, however, who grabbed the headlines.

The Scotland international scored two tries and delivered a man-of-the-match performance, giving Tim Sheens even more of a selection dilemma. McGuire will undoubtedly lead the halves, but his first-choice partner is still unconfirmed, with Addy, Matty Marsh, Chris Atkin and Tommy Lee all contenders. Marsh started at stand-off on Sunday, but after Addy’s impressive performance Sheens’ head could be turned. The former Bradford man’s versatility means he could easily slot into the back row instead but he’s still a very viable option, especially after his showing at scrum-half in the World Cup.