Five things we learned from this week #24

Jack Walker Warrington

Leeds set to lose big talent…

Despite having starred for them over the past few weeks, it seems 17-year-old starlet Jack Walker is set to leave the Rhinos for pastures new, after rejecting a three-year deal. Most people have an opinion on the subject, and I’m no different.

Turning down the offer is a massive mistake. It seems like Walker has gotten rather big for his boots and is making demands only really offered to players of a much greater experience and prestige. It’s ok having big ambitions and wanting to make a name for himself quickly, but taking time and not rushing development is what usually benefits young players the most. Brian McDermott and Leeds have an illustrious history of developing talent and Walker could have become the latest to roll off the production line. I really can’t see him progressing as well at any other club.

…But there’s plenty of others

While Walker made all the headlines last week, the rest of Leeds’ youth system deserve a huge round of applause. Brian McDermott played seven teenagers in his side’s 34-0 defeat to Wigan, but the Rhinos certainly came away with a moral victory.

The Warriors were dominant throughout, while the visitors barely got a sniff of their opponents line. But the defensive resilience from such a youthful side simply cannot be ignored. Coming up against a Wigan attack that has a reputation for playing fast, flowing football must be such a daunting prospect, but the youthful Rhinos were up to the task for 80-90% of the game. The score-line may not flatter them, but Leeds’ youngsters all deserve a pat on the back.

Hitchcox hitting the heights

Castleford may be without Greg Eden for the next few weeks but judging by his replacement’s performance on Saturday, Tigers fans have nothing to worry about.

Jy Hitchcox was instrumental in his side’s 32-24 win over Catalans, including two tremendous finishes that Eden himself would have been proud of. It’s been a frustrating season for Hitchcox, who only returned to playing in June after over a year out with a rare bone disease in his knee. But after re-establishing himself in Daryl Powell’s squad, the 27-year-old is in the form of his life. Eden could struggle to get his squad place back if the flying Aussie continues to perform.

‘Fax win race for fourth

After weeks of battling for the final place in this year’s Qualifiers, Halifax just edged out Toulouse with a sensational performance on the final day of the regular season.

Richard Marshall’s side beat league leaders Hull KR 28-6; Rovers’ heaviest defeat of the season. Whether it was complacency from the East Hull side or simply that they were outclassed, making the top four is a huge achievement for Halifax, but also a disappointing end for Toulouse. The French outfit looked like one of the top sides early in the season, despite just being promoted from League 1. But after a dip in form over the past few weeks, they can now only hope for success in the Championship Shield. Off season gives them a chance to lick their wounds and come back fighting in 2018.

Teams strengthen ahead of Super 8’s

With the Super 8’s almost upon us, plenty of teams were active in the market last week in the hope of strengthening before the July 21st deadline. While most of the transfer action came in the Championship and League 1, Catalans, Leigh, Salford and Wakefield all bolstered their squads with some new arrivals.

On another note, ‘deadline day’ itself is becoming more of an event each year, taking a similar trajectory to the football concept which has become an annual occasion. There were live blogs documenting all the ins and outs, while clubs themselves seemed pretty happy to get involved with the excitement. Who knows, a few years down the line we might even have our own deadline day TV special.