Ex Hull KR boss slams “crackers” loophole allowing Bevan French to face Robins in play-offs

Wigan Warriors take on Hull KR on Saturday and somewhat controversially Bevan French, Kaide Ellis and Harvie Hill will all be eligible to play in the Super League play-0ff semi-final.

The reason behind the controversy comes down to the fact that the three players all picked up a ban during their final regular season Super League game in round 27 against Leigh Leopards.

Having all been hit with a one game ban it meant they’d obviously miss the next game and having won the League Leaders Shield and earned a bye round, that meant the next game was this upcoming semi-final against the Robins.

So why are they eligible to play? As per the RFL rules players can serve bans in reserve games and therefore the three players have technically missed a game, the trio ineligible to help Wigan Warriors Reserves lift the Reserves Grand Final last week.

Many fans were in uproar about this but it’s a ‘loophole’ that’s been used countless times before and Wigan would have been daft not to utilise it ahead of their biggest game of the season, however the debate still rages on whether it should be legal.

One man who is strongly opposed is former Hull KR boss and current Leigh Leopards Director of Rugby Chris Chester, the ex KR coach asked about the situation on BBC Humberside.

“It’s crackers isn’t it, it beggars belief,” he exclaimed.

“I’m not a big fan, I know some clubs have used that over the years but I think we need to scrap it. I think your ban is your ban, whether you’ve got an academy Grand Final or a Reserve Grand Final in between.

“I’m not a fan, but those rules have been in place for a number of years now and I certainly think we need to have another look at those types of things; there’s plenty of things in our game that we probably need to have a look at, but that loophole, we need to get rid of it.”

As with the controversy over Leigh’s very own John Asiata and his tackling technique earlier in the season, any changes that the RFL make have to be done in the off-season, thus an opportunity could present itself this off-season.

Chester was quizzed on how confident he is about it’s removal and explained that it’s been of benefit to numerous clubs, but a discussion must be had.

“I think there’s got to be some conversations about it, everybody knows it’s not right; Wigan aren’t the only club that have done it, I think Saints have used that loophole and I think Wakefield used it at the start of the year as well. I think there needs to be some sensible discussions in and around it.”

With the rule currently legal it means that French will line up against Rovers when Wigan host KR on Saturday for a place in the Grand Final at Old Trafford.