Walker, Rhinos Ranger
Leeds came away with a strong 64-28 against Doncaster on Friday, but there was one player in particular that caught the eye more than most. 17-year-old Jack Walker made his debut at fullback and certainly made an impression.
A 13-minute hat trick accompanied with solid defensive and offensive performances capped off a dream debut for Walker, who’s career could have been over before it begun. Just a few years back he suffered a fractured skull whilst playing for amateur club Oulton Invaders, with some expecting him never to play the game again. However, he defied the odds and signed a professional contract with his hometown club just two years later. And if Friday’s performance is anything to go by, then this is just the start of a very bright career.
Toronto continue to splash the cash
Craig Hall, Fuifui Moimoi, Ryan Bailey and now Ryan Brierley. The Wolfpack certainly aren’t messing about when it comes to recruitment. They’ve more than established themselves in League 1 and are aiming for a flawless season, after starting with a 100% record after five rounds.
But is their star-studded squad really beneficial for the game in Canada? Sure, it’ll get them results, but when will their North American players get the chance? So far, only America captain Ryan Burroughs has featured, and there’s plenty more waiting in the wings. The Brierley signing certainly bolsters their ranks, but surely it would be better to give a chance to a Canadian or American halfback?
Swinton shock the Giants
The upset of the weekend came at the John Smith’s stadium on Sunday, as Luke Waterworth’s try in the dying minutes sealed a famous victory for Swinton over Huddersfield. The Giants put out an under-strength squad, but should still have had the firepower to overcome their Championship rivals.
The loss is yet another worrying sign for Rick Stone’s side, who are now without a win in their last nine. They sit 11th in the table with only two wins all year and face another stern test on Thursday against Leeds, so things really don’t get any easier. Take nothing away from Swinton, though, who put in a really determined performance and represented the lower leagues with pride. The Lions aren’t particularly making waves in the Championship, but a good cup run is something all neutrals would love to see.
KR get their payback
The Challenge Cup match between Leigh and Hull KR was always going to be an interesting contest. While there isn’t any direct rivalry between the two, Leigh took the Rovers’ spot in Super League for 2017, so there was certainly an undertone of the East Hull club wanting to prove themselves.
And prove themselves they did, coming away from the Leigh Sports Village with a 23-10 win. A Ryan Shaw double secured the victory, seeing KR join fellow Championship clubs Dewsbury, Halifax, Featherstone and Swinton in the sixth round. Such a result makes for an extremely intriguing Qualifiers come August. Both sides could be in the mix once again, and Hull KR will certainly fancy their chances of getting back into Super League
Bennett calls on Aussies
The world of social media exploded on Monday morning, following the announcement that two Australian natives had been chosen in the England squad. Wayne Bennett included Cronulla’s Chris Heighington and Gold Coast’s Chris McQueen in his 20-man squad to face Samoa in Campbelltown next month.
However, England fans haven’t taken the news too well, with the age old argument about eligibility again raising its ugly head. As much as we need quality in the squad, I don’t see why Bennett can’t give the experience to a couple of young English players instead. Kyle Amor, Jack Hughes, Stevie Ward and Matt Whitley are all players that will be chomping at the bit to be involved, and would’ve benefitted from the experience. The only hope now is that Heighington and McQueen are only in there to save some air miles.