Over the last two days, four Super League sides have enjoyed runouts ahead of the 2022 Betfred Super League season which kicks off on 10th February.
That night reigning Champions St Helens will take on beaten Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons in a mouth-watering battle and the Saints began preparations for their title defence with a 16-6 win over Leigh in Alex Walmsley’s testimonial.
Last night was such proud and special night for myself and my family. From walking out with my boys to playing in front of all you fans, it’s a night I will never forget.
Thank you to everyone who came, I’m truly grateful to play for a club and town as special as ours ❤️ pic.twitter.com/72q0X2xHcR
— Alex Walmsley (@engywalmsley) January 22, 2022
The league’s best prop for the better part of a decade, Walmsley deserved a night devoted to him and the Saints obliged with a victory crowned by a conversion by the man of the hour as he followed in the footsteps of Paul Anderson who 16 years ago shocked Super League with a touchline conversion on his farewell to the Knowsley Road faithful.
Less difficult than Anderson’s effort in 2006, it was still a lovely moment for the former Batley man following a James Bell try on debut against his former club. Bell was joined on debut by Konrad Hurrell and Will Hopoate.
Walmsley would describe the moment on SaintsTV as a “tongue in cheek moment” but ultimately he wanted to put the focus on others saying: “I want to thank everyone for turning out. It was such an unbelievable night not just for me but for my family.”
Elsewhere on Friday night, Hull KR put the rest of the league on notice with a ruthless 60-12 triumph over Dewsbury, the biggest scoreline any Super League club has racked up this pre-season. After the game Tony Smith noted the size of his outside backs as a key reason he expects his side to again be a difficult force to stop in 2022: “We’re a decent-sized team. We’ve got some good-sized forwards but we’ve got a big backline as well. There are some big human beings out there to take care of.
“The good thing is they’ve got some good skill and showed some good speed as well. They’re all good ingredients to have.”
Rivals Hull FC played today and defeated London 26-0 with new signing Joe Lovodua crossing for a second half try following first half scores from the returning Josh Griffin, Carlos Tuimavave and Andre Savelio.
After the game, Hodgson noted the importance of recent growth within his squad after they lost to Bradford last week: “There’s been growth throughout the week, so we’re really happy.”
🗣️ "We saw a lot of new combinations out there today, and a lot of young kids too. There's been growth throughout the week, so we're really happy."
Brett Hodgson looks back on the his side's training match against London, rounding off their week in Loughborough…
— Hull FC (@hullfcofficial) January 22, 2022
Another coach in good spirits this weekend is Paul Rowley who was particularly impressed by a pair of new signings in Salford’s 32-10 win over Halifax on Friday night.
After the game, Rowley described fullback Ryan Brierley as “world class” before noting the role Brodie Croft played in a positive evening for the Red Devils.