Five things we learned from this week #5

Widnes Vikings 10-19 Warrington Wolves

Warrington still yet to make an impact

Yet another weekend of Rugby League has passed and still Warrington find themselves at the foot of the Super League table. It’s hard to put a finger on what’s going wrong at the Halliwell Jones, as a team that has such a proven squad filled with quality shouldn’t be finding wins hard to come by.

Their latest downfall came at the hands of Wigan, who dealt them a 38-16 hammering, with the home side barely looking in the game at all. And while Wigan were prolific all night, with George Williams basically running the show, the Warrington faithful would have at least been hoping for a gutsy performance of some kind. And while coach Tony Smith insists this is just a “slump” and that they will come out of it soon, there is certainly a strong feeling of frustration around the whole club at the minute.

Simona’s career over?

One of the darker stories to come out of the past week was the demise of Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona, after the Samoan international was de-registered by the NRL for betting on matches. Following the decision, Simona came out and did an interview with the Australian Daily Telegraph, detailing how issues in his personal life led to a downwards spiral of betting and drug use.

Simona was found to have gambled on 65 matches between March and August last year and while no one can condone Simona’s actions, there’s still an air of sadness about the whole situation. An outstanding young player has unfortunately found the wrong path in life and has effectively lost his NRL dream. Losing any player from our sport is sad enough, especially in such circumstances. Here’s hoping that Tim can get his life and potentially his career back on track soon.

NRL set for US?

Reports are surfacing from Australia that the NRL is looking to open the 2018 season with a game in the United States. South Sydney and Parramatta are reportedly the two teams set to be involved, with the concept already receiving the backing of Australian broadcasting companies.

This wouldn’t be the first time Australian Rugby League has visited the US in recent times. In 1987, the NRL took take State of Origin over, which failed to impress with only 12,000 people attending. Then, more recently South Sydney played Leeds Rhinos in Jacksonville in 2008 which, in the grand scheme of things, was much more successful, drawing in a similar crowd to the Origin game. As a sport, Rugby League is expanding massively in North America right now and if marketed right, a concept such as this could hugely increase the popularity of Rugby League over there.

All Golds leading the way for expansion clubs

While there were several surprise results in Super League across the weekend, arguably the biggest upset of the weekend came in League 1, as the University of Gloucestershire All Golds thrashed Keighley 46-22. The Cougars are considered one of the promotion favourites in the third division, so a loss like this against one of the developing clubs is certain to send shockwaves across the competition.

While it wasn’t the Cougars best performance, the All Golds put in a quality performance in a season where they are really turning some heads. Sunday’s win was their third in four matches, with their only loss being a narrow 10-4 defeat to Hunslet. The Cheltenham-based outfit now travel to Doncaster in the Challenge Cup, where they will be looking for yet another upset.

Saints and Wire losing faith in youngsters?

Reading Garry Schofield’s League Express column this week, he points out that one big story from the weekend was Warrington and St Helens both dropping their young halfbacks for their games against Wigan and Hull respectively. Wire’s Declan Patton was left out for fellow rookie Harvey Livett, while Jon Wilkin was preferred to Danny Richardson for Saints.

And while both teams are undoubtedly out of form, knee-jerk reactions like these certainly aren’t the right moves to be making. For a coach to put so much faith in a young player, before pulling him away when the going gets tough, must shatter their confidence, especially when neither of them are, in my eyes, particularly to blame for their side’s poor performances. Cunningham and Smith should be questioning the stance of the more senior players in their squads, instead of picking on the younger guys.