Leigh Leopards and Hull KR are headed to Wembley after semi-final wins over St Helens and Wigan Warriors at the homes of Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup setting up one of the most intriguing finals in recent history.
Both these semi-finals were hugely controversial and with the final round the corner the controversy of it has resurfaced.
Undoubtedly the biggest controversy was around the injuries to four St Helens players.
“Both Agnatius and Alex have been injured and injured pretty badly,” Paul Wellens said.
“We as a Club, myself as a coach, and those players in particular are angry, upset and disappointed with some of the events from the weekend. Not just those events, but what has transpired in the subsequent days, how we feel that both Agnatius and Alex have been let down by the game.
“We talk about player welfare and the duty of care to its players, those players have been failed this weekend. For Agnatius he is out for a minimum of nine months, he can only have his ACL repaired after his MCL and his ankle ligaments have also healed. It’s three injuries in one tackle. Alex has had surgery today on his MCL, that will be at least twelve weeks.”
The tackler involved in both of those injuries, albeit not the sole tackler, was Leigh’s skipper John Asiata who Wellens has now described as “out of control”.
“Well the bloke is out of control. He’s just hurling himself at player’s knees,” explained in his pre-match press conference to BBC Radio Merseyside.
“It’s a tackle technique that is not just brought into play on the weekend. It’s a tackle technique he’s been using, he used it against us in round three.
“It’s been an accident waiting to happen and this is why in my opinion the RFL are culpable, and the Match Review Panel are culpable.
“They’ve had numerous opportunities to get in and influence the way he tackles and get him to stop doing it and they’ve failed to do that.”
Asiata wasn’t banned for these tackles and will lead out Leigh in the Challenge Cup Final and now Derek Beaumont has come out and said that he wants more players to be like him:
“I want to see more John Asiata’s out there. I honestly do. I think the person he puts in danger in those tackles is himself. I think he’s a great player, he’s a great human being.
“I think he’s just someone that has a whatever-it-takes approach; so if he’s absolutely gassed out because everyone’s running him, and they do, he’ll just put his head there, he’ll put anything there , he’s got that mentality. I just think we need more players are like that.
“I’ve never singled out a player as our number one player. I think if I’m a coach coaching against our team, he’s our number one player. I think he’s the one you’ve got to take out of the game. A lot comes around him.”