Five Things We Learned #62

Game management is key

The one thing Leeds are lacking at the minute is game management. They lost by a point on Thursday for the second successive week and while Hull were good enough to get back into the game, it could have been prevented.

The Rhinos were six points ahead, yet still played with as much exuberance and imagination as when they were chasing the game at 12-0 down. In situations like that it should be five drives and a kick to touch, especially given how fraught with errors their game was. The same happened against Wigan last week. They invited the Warriors back into the game and eventually paid the price. Brian McDermott said he was happy with his team’s performance on both occasions, but they need to learn how to shut games out.

 

Connor for England?

He’s a player that divides opinion, but you can’t doubt Jake Connor’s ability. The 23-year-old showed his talents on Thursday, making plenty of big plays. His handling and technical skills are arguably the best in the league, while he has the ability and awareness to work well alongside any winger. He still lacks the maturity, but that will come naturally in time.

I’d even put him forward to start for England. Centre is one position we’re lacking in and let’s face it, the John Bateman experiment isn’t working. He’s a great player, just not in that position at international level. Connor, however, would be superb on our left edge. He’d give Ryan Hall plenty of opportunities and throw something different at the Aussies/Kiwis. His form at least warrants a place in the squad for the Denver test in June.

 

Minns made a mistake

I was pretty gutted to hear that Thomas Minns had failed a drugs test this week. Having followed his career from his Leeds debut back in 2013, he always struck me as a hard-working player with potential, and not one that would make such an error of judgement.

I’m not condoning his actions, but I have plenty of sympathy for him. The circumstances surrounding the incident weren’t for enjoyment like we’ve seen with players in the past, but to numb the pain of spending his first Mother’s Day without his mum. Reading the 23-year-old’s statement, I have no doubt that he genuinely regrets his actions and knows he’s let himself down. It can only be hoped he keeps himself fit during his inevitable ban and is given a second chance afterwards.

 

York and Bradford leading the way in League 1

They may not be in the next round of the Challenge Cup, but it can’t be understated how positive the weekend was for City Knights and Bulls. Their respective games against Catalans and Warrington drew in crowds of over 3000, which both even trumped Friday’s Super League clash between Salford and Wakefield.

Stats like that scream potential for League 1. Bradford’s away support at the Halliwell Jones was immaculate and proves that not all is lost despite their ongoing problems in past years. York, on the other hand, marketed their home tie with the Dragons superbly and showed how popular the game could be in the city. The competition as a whole is thriving, now more than ever before, and the RFL need to pick up on it. There’s been much speculation as to how the league system will change in the near future, but it would be a great shame should League 1 be scrapped, especially when it’s on the cusp of its best season yet.

 

Wolfpack merry-go round continues

It seems as if every week, Toronto either sign or lose players. The recent signing of Australian prop Darcy Lussick was followed by the release of three big players. Championship veteran Quentin Laulu-Togagae was offloaded to free up an overseas quota spot, before being swiftly followed out of the door by close-season signings Joe Westerman and Tom Armstrong.

Toronto Wolfpack can confirm that long serving fullback Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e will leave the club. @qlaulutogagae wore the number 1 jersey during our 2017 inaugural season and always be remembered as the very first name on a Toronto Wolfpack team sheet. _ Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley said: “It was a difficult decision because I’ve always had a great relationship with Q. He has been an outstanding leader for us both on and off the field and he was a really big part of helping us make the transition in Canada. He’s a fun character and a very popular member of the group and we wish him the very best of luck for the future.” _ Thank you QLT for your service and dedication to the Wolfpack, we wish you the very best 🙏. _ Read more ➡️ www.torontowolfpack.com

A post shared by Toronto Wolfpack (@torontowolfpackofficial) on

It seems to me that Paul Rowley’s priority is bringing in quality individuals as opposed to creating a quality team and that’s where problems can occur. The Wolfpack have almost been found out on plenty of occasions, most recently against Barrow where just one try separated them. Even the fans seem to be getting restless with the constant player movements. QLT’s departure, in particular, was met with much disappointment as he was a cult hero among supporters. Toronto need to seriously reel it in with the transfers, or they run the risk of alienating people from the club and the game.

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Regarding the Toronto Wolfpack: I will support a losing team filled with players I respect, enjoy watching, and can relate to. Most Toronto sports fans are exactly the same way. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have had 15 seasons of consecutive home stadium sell-outs, and continue to sell out most games, even though they last won the Cup back in ’67.

We’ve let a few Wolfpack players go and that has disappointed the fans – Fui, Rhys Jacks, Dan Fleming, QLT, Bailey – but we know the team’s a work in progress and we’ll stick with them.

When they come home to Toronto they’ll really start to gel as a team, and benefit from the positive, encouraging supporters in Canada and the great atmosphere at games here.