Magic Weekend and That

When we bummed Cas at the HJ a few months ago, we joked that the Tigers resembled the Wheatsheaf team from the film Up ‘n’ Under.

This time around, in the land of the Toon, it was our beloved Wire looked like the rag tag bunch of amateurs as the Likely Lads Luke Gale and Luke Dorn ripped us apart at the Sports Direct.Com Stadium or whatever it’s called this week.

It was wank that wasn’t it?

If we were Wigan, we’d probably blame injuries; if we were Salford, we’d blame Catalan Dragons and the RFL and if we were Widnes, we’d blame The UN, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and anyone in earshot, but we’re not. We’re Warrington so we’re nursing a massive hangover, trying to pick the bones out of what was another piss poor performance.

At the start of the season, we seemed to have the happy knack of being a bit shit, but still winning, which seems to have all but disappeared.

When we play well, we look like absolute world beaters. The first 25 minutes on Saturday was as good as we’ve seen for a few weeks and the second half at Wakey wasn’t far behind.

But – and it’s a big, shiny, fuck off but – the first half at Belle Vue and the last hour against Cas was fucking abysmal.

We looked a million miles away from the side that put 50-odd on them back in March and the only people happier than the Cas fans were probably the Warrington Branch of the Darryl Powell Fan Club, who continuously bang on about how better a coach he is than Tony Smith every time Cas win.

They’re nowhere to be seen when Cas get a good hiding, though, are they?

For all Powell’s positives – and he is a good coach, there is no doubting that – he simply does not have the silverware on his CV that Smith has. He has turned Cas into a competitive, but ultimately inconsistent side, much like we were under Cullen – and Leeds were under Powell, for that matter.

Thing is, you genuinely can’t fault the effort, the team just didn’t look organised and spunked chances – at crucial times, too.

Gene Ormsby dropped one with the line at his mercy and Matty “Hulk Hands” Russell bombed three – the one that he contrived to fuck up at 14- 6 when the Tigers were starting to get a hold on the game was a game changer. If we could have halted their momentum at that point, we might have pushed on.

We’re not huge fans of Matty Russell. His cheeky smile and rock hard abs endears him to the women and the odd good break from dummy half catches the eye of the casual fan, but the ability to run fast in a straight line does not make him a good full back any more than Jeremy Corbyn wearing a giant nappy makes him a Sumo Wrestler.

In the modern game (We’ve gone all Stevo there, not even sorry) there are three kinds of fullbacks; the extra pivot, the support player and the defensive organiser. Matty Russell can’t catch, pass or organise a defence.

We need a Luke Dorn or a Bret Hodgson, we’ve got a Forrest Gump. Thick as a castle wall, but can run like stink.

When Sandow is back fit, either Ratchford or Gidley will fill that third pivot role and provide a more organised, more fluid back line.

Off the pitch, there is no denying the Magic Weekend is a winning concept, but the dilemma at the minute must be where it fits in to an already crowded calendar.

Rugby League needs big events to put the game on the public eye, and everyone loves the atmosphere. A day out or weekend away in a nice stadium in a big city, surrounded by a mixture of mates and pissed up lads dressed like twats, but there are legitimate concerns about having to squeeze in an extra round when our blokes play far too many games already.

One idea is to play it over the Easter bank holiday weekend, which would kill two proverbial birds with one stone with regards to fixture congestion and actually having it on a bank holiday weekend.

Or maybe the first round of the Super 8’s which would get rid of the problem of not having a fucking clue where we were playing the first week of the post season, but then you wouldn’t have guaranteed fixtures until just before the event, which would hit ticket sales and make it nearly impossible to plan your trip.

There’s pros and cons whatever you do, obviously, but moving it to Easter and getting shut of one of the two games over that weekend would also free up a bit of time for an international weekend.

Like it or not, International sport will always get more attention than domestic Rugby League and it’s the international exposure and increased media profile around the big games is one of the reasons the likes of Sam Burgess and Kyle Eastmond have their heads turned by other, inferior sports. That, and the extra dollar that such exposure brings with it, of course.

The 2013 World Cup was a massive success, but the RFL being the RFL decided to build on the sell outs and general goodwill by not having England play at home for two years. The media interest died off and we were quickly back to square one.

The issue that we have is that we’ve not really got anyone to play – a mid-season test against a full strength Australia or Kiwis is a logistical non-starter and France, Wales, Scotland or Ireland just won’t give England a competitive game.

The Exiles was an idea worth persevering with – the standard of overseas talent over here at the moment would provide a far bigger text than any of the Northern Hemisphere sides, but the parochial attitudes of some fans made it hard for them to buy into it and we ended up with the situation where England’s brightest young prospect was booed while representing the national side at Headingley.

The South Standers have grown accustomed to booing their own team this year, as their spectacular fall from grace continues at such a rate it actually broke the sound barrier in Leeds the other week.
After two losses on the trot, a home game against the side rooted to the bottom of the league should be the perfect tonic for the Wire, but we should know more than anyone never to write off Leeds.

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