Barba superb despite the snow
Like the rest of the country this week, Rugby League came to a standstill with the effects of storm Emma, resulting in just seven games going ahead from the three professional leagues. One man very unaccustomed to such weather is Ben Barba, but that didn’t stop him from putting in another man-of-the-match performance, coming away with two tries and an assist as Saints thrashed Salford 34-2.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 5, 2018
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Barba will be this year’s Man of Steel. We’re only four games in (well, five for some and three for others) but he’s been the out and out best player in the competition so far. His pace, awareness and vision make him unplayable at times, I just hope he hasn’t peaked too soon.
Patton hard done by, but Watts needs to learn
Wasn’t Friday’s televised game a fiery encounter! Two second half red cards saw Warrington and Hull end with 12 men each, but I thought one incident was much worse than the other. Watts’ was blatant and stupid, so he deserved the marching orders he received. Hopefully a rocketing from Lee Radford should teach him a lesson.
Patton’s, on the other hand, was harsh. It was one of those where Ben Thaler has judged it on the aftermath and not the actual foul itself. It was a swinging arm like any other you’d see in Super League but just caught Faraimo at an awkward angle, effectively making it look worse than it was. A penalty, and maybe a yellow card at worst, would have been sufficient, so I hope he doesn’t get a ban.
Hearn deal getting closer
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn having an influence on rugby league seems to be getting closer and closer. Hearn met up with RFL interim chief executive Ralph Rimmer on Monday which should at least present some new ideas on how to better-promote our sport.
I’ve written before about how good Hearn would be. His natural business acumen and fresh promotion ideas would work wonders – the real key is to get him enthusiastic about rugby league. Whether that involves inviting him to games, letting him sit in on board meetings or even meeting with players, if Hearn becomes invested in league then the potential for growth will be endless.
Leigh start to panic
Nothing seems to be going right for the Centurions. Neil Jukes’ resignation and the seemingly desperation signing of former captain Mickey Higham were followed by the news that star off-season recruit Kurt Baptiste has left the club. All of this came before the side suffered their fourth defeat in five games against Featherstone, leaving them ninth in the Championship.
On paper, Leigh should be battling for top spot. They’ve got the quality, the fanbase, the stadium and the backing. What’s missing is confidence. There seems to be so much unrest, whether that’s on the field or off it, that the players just can’t string any form together. It’s a far cry from the team that dominated this league just a couple of years ago.
Tomkins returning to his best
The Wigan fullback rolled back the years on Friday, recreating the form that caught the eye when he burst onto the scene back in 2008. Tomkins’ deft step and unique agility were what made him one of rugby league’s hottest prospects as a 19-year-old, and this try against Widnes at the weekend shows he’s getting close to reaching those heights once again.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 3, 2018
I’m still not 100% sure where he should be playing this year. He’s comfortable at fullback and in the halves and seems to have just as much of an effect in both positions. The rotation with Morgan Escaré seems to be working for Shaun Wane so really, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Either way it’s great to see Tomkins’ new lease of life after his injury-ravaged 2017.