Five things we learned from this week #48

RIP Kato Ottio

The entire rugby league community was in mourning on Tuesday, after learning of the tragic death of Widnes centre Kato Ottio. The Papua New Guinea international had been due to fly to England in the coming weeks, but suffered “sudden health issues” while training with Queensland Cup side PNG Hunters.

The Vikings’ treatment of the situation has been exceptional. They held a superbly-observed minutes’ silence ahead of their friendly against Whitehaven, whilst also posting numerous tributes and promoting the crowdfunding page for his family, which currently stands at just over £10,000. Rugby League has sadly lost one of it’s most promising talents, but Ottio’s name will never be forgotten.

 

Warrior to Warrior

Former Wigan centre Anthony Gelling announced his new club in typical Gelling fashion, releasing a video that went viral around rugby league circles. The video sees the self-proclaimed ‘man of the people’ chilling in his apartment and applying for jobs, before receiving a call from New Zealand Warriors coach Stephen Kearney offering him a contract.

Gelling has signed a one-year deal with the Warriors, but will likely play for their reserve grade in the NSW Cup. He could, however, have a big role off the field. The Warriors recently employed YouTube sensation and former Sydney Roosters player Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck in a fan engagement role and Gelling could perhaps do the same, as their personalities will bounce off each other. Gelling is certainly a talented player but his personality has ensured he should have a great career to fall back on.

 

Tansey back in England

Sheffield announced four trialists that will look to earn contracts ahead of the new season, but one name stood out among the others. Former Leeds, Hull and Wakefield back Jordan Tansey is set to reignite his career in England, in what is a bit of a left-field signing for the Eagles.

Mark Aston only has 15 players registered for his 2018 squad so far and so is in serious need of new additions. Tansey, however, is a bit of a ‘marmite player’. He has bags of top level experience but is notoriously inconsistent, so is a big risk to take. His presence could inspire the rest of the Eagles’ players, though, while fellow trialists Blake Broadbent, Max Garcia and Tom Megretton all seem to have potential.

 

Price off the mark

Steve Price got his first win as Warrington coach on Saturday, as his side triumphed over Championship side Rochdale. He fielded a young side as expected but it’s a step in the right direction after the club’s disappointing defeat to Widnes two weeks ago.

Price is still experimenting with his side, even partnering youngsters Harvey Livett and Morgan Smith in the halves, with Jack Johnson pushing hard for the fullback berth. All three were impressive on Saturday and with a whole host of other youngsters also putting in good performances, Warrington certainly aren’t short on squad depth. We’ll have a better indication of their progress once the season starts but Price can take the past weekend as a positive.

 

Rovers draw first blood in derby

Hull KR took the spoils in the first Hull derby of 2018, defeating their arch rivals 34-26 to win the Clive Sullivan Trophy. Late tries from Matty Marsh and Will Oakes sealed the victory for Tim Sheens’ men against a fairly under-strength Hull side.

With the game only being a friendly, it’s hardly a true reflection of how the two teams will go this season, but it’s great to have the Hull derby back. Hull KR’s relegation left a huge void when it came to Easter and Magic Weekend last season, with no other game matching it’s intensity and atmosphere. Sunday’s friendly will only whet the appetite of both sides’ players and fans, so expect fireworks when the league games come around.