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Five things we learned from this week #8

RL what we learned

Super League Saturday

This weekend’s round of fixtures threw up an interesting debate; should Super League return to Saturdays? Last weekend was the first time since April 2013, barring the Magic Weekend, that three or more Super League fixtures were played on a Saturday.

Many younger fans probably won’t be able to remember, but Super League used to be a Friday/Saturday competition, with games regularly scheduled on a Saturday afternoon. It was an ideal time, as no one had to rush from work to attend games, while there was no disappointing prospect of work the following day either. Sky’s influence on the game has massively changed the schedule, but is it time for the RFL to put the game and the fans first again?

Wolves finally off the mark

Warrington fans can finally muster a smile, or at least half of one, after their side finally got their first point of the season on the board. It wasn’t a win, but a hard-fought draw against a strong Hull team which is a great starting block for Tony Smith’s side as they look to recover from a poor start to the season.

After six convincing defeats, a competition point will come as a huge relief to the Wolves, as they were strong contenders for the title coming into the new season but have far from loved up to expectation. The club will hope that the result will kick-start their season into life, however they face a tough test on Friday night as they come up against a Leeds side with plenty of momentum behind them.

KR preparing early?

Are Hull KR preparing for the Middle 8’s and a return to Super League already? Well, it certainly looks that way if their latest two signings are anything to go by. The Rovers last week confirmed the signatures of former Huddersfield prop Josh Johnson and Penrith Panthers half Zach Dockar-Clay, both players of a notable pedigree.

Johnson adds plenty of depth and competition to the front row, while Dockar-Clay comes with bags of flare and is a long term halves option when loan pair Jamie Ellis and Jordan Abdull leave at the end of the season. KR are the Championship favourites and have stated their intent to be a Super League team again in 2018. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Tim Sheens is already starting to bolster his squad. Don’t be surprised to see more new faces at the KC Lightstream Stadium in the near future.

International Innovation

One of the big announcements last week came from the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), who confirmed a number of exciting competitions coming up in the next few years. Their plans include an England tour, an international 9’s tournament and an Emerging Nations World Championship, all of which will happen between now and 2021.

The announcement has divided opinions, with some pleased with the new concepts and others believing they’re a waste of time. The one that stands out to me is the international 9’s, an idea that has no doubt come from the hugely successful NRL Auckland 9’s competition. The question is, would it work at international level? Having fans come from all across the globe is much different to having fans travel from Australia’s east coast. It’s an interesting experiment, but I’ll be surprised if it takes off.

Aston on a mission

Featherstone came away 38-6 winners against Dewsbury on Sunday, but there was one man who caught the headlines more than most. Rovers’ Leeds loanee Cory Aston produced a 22-point man-of-the-match performance, potentially throwing his hat in the ring for a chance at Super League.

Aston joined the Rhinos from Sheffield at the start of the year, but has found opportunities hard to come by, especially with their form at the moment. The 22-year-old has insisted, therefore, that his main focus is to nail down a place in the Featherstone side. However, if he keeps performing to a good standard, then it can’t be too long before Brian McDermott gives him an opportunity.

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