SUPER LEAGUE News & Rumours – “Comeback Season: Super League Returns”

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NEWS & RUMOURS – June 25, 2020

“The 2020 Super League season will resume on 2 August, it has been confirmed. The restart will see Hull KR face Toronto Wolfpack, St Helens take on Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield go up against Leeds at a single behind-closed-doors venue. On the following weekend (August 8-9), all clubs will be back in action in a full round of fixtures.” – The Independent

“November 28 was preferred over December 5, as it accommodates player contracts, ensures player availability and minimises the impact on the 2021 season. What was meant to be a season with 29 rounds will be reduced to 22. With seven already played, we can look forward to 15 more regular-season rounds, with each team to play each other once. The play-off semi-finals are planned to take place on November 19 and 20, with the Grand Final provisionally scheduled to be played the following weekend.” – Sky Sports

“The competition has been reduced to 22 rounds with the loop fixtures taken out and no magic Weekend taking place this year. It means a straight forward home and away style fixture list for the 12 teams. That is complicated further with an issue over playing games in France and Canada. Super League say that are; “closely monitoring government directives in both France and Canada”. A decision on games at the Dragons and Wolfpack will be taken shortly.” –  Hull Daily Mail

“After significant and ongoing work prioritising public health and the safety of players, officials and club staff, the season will recommence behind closed doors at a single venue with the following games. This means the Wolfpack will re-open the season with their clash against Hull KR.” – torontowolfpack.com

Super League has yet to confirm the venue for those televised matches but as expected the competition will initially return behind closed doors at a small number of neutral grounds, with round eight scheduled for the weekend of August 8-9.” – Hull Daily Mail

“Super League hopes to allow spectators into games in either late September or early October, with a series of more profitable fixtures likely to be backloaded to later in the year to maximise income for clubs. The league has also agreed to delay the start of next season until the middle of February at the earliest, owing to the current campaign finishing six weeks later than usual.” – The Guardian

“The Challenge Cup wasn’t mentioned in the release from the Super League clubs, but it’s likely that competition will restart with the sixth round in August and finish with the final in October. Whether Old Trafford will be available for the Grand Final and Wembley for the Challenge Cup final remains to be seen.” – BBC

“Whilst the recent government announcements underline increasing optimism, the pandemic remains unpredictable. Our final fixture schedule needs to respond to opportunities that will unfold over the coming weeks and accordingly, full details of fixtures, venues and season structure will be confirmed as they become known.” – Wigan Today

VIDEO: “Lui says he hopes fans will be able to hear the audio on the pitch when the games return as it will give them a unique insight into the amount of chatter that happens on the field and he has highlighted his half back partner Luke Gale as ‘one to hear’ as opposed to ‘one to watch’.” – Leeds Rhinos

Lee Kershaw

“Kershaw, 21, scored two tries – including one on his debut against Leeds Rhinos – in six appearances last season. He has turned down the offer of a new two-year deal and Chester said: “We have made him an improved offer on his 2020 contract and he came back fairly quickly with a ‘no thank you’.” – Wakefield Express

James Bentley

“St Helens forward James Bentley has signed a new deal that will see him stay at the club until at least the end of 2021. The 23-year-old has scored four tries in 25 appearances for Saints since arriving from Bradford in 2017. He has earned three caps for Ireland on the international stage. Bentley said: “I am very happy to sign an extension with the club.” – loverugbyleague.com

James Graham

“St Helens have issued a statement confirming the capture of James Graham for the remainder of 2020. The club say it has made the announcement following “recent media speculation and interviews conducted in Australia”. The move is pending the completion of paperwork.” – Forty20

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but this gives me the opportunity to go home and finish my career where it all started and play out the next six months and then move on to the next chapter.” – Canberra Times

“Graham made his debut in 2003 as an 18-year-old, before going on to make over 200 appearances for the seven-time Super League champions. He moved to Australia in 2012 with the Bulldogs before joining the Dragons in 2018, and has gone on to play 186 NRL games in total, as well as picking up over 50 international caps.” – seriousaboutrl.com

“With Issac Luke moving to Brisbane two weeks ago, the Dragons need two signings to complete their 29-man roster by August but rival clubs have been reluctant to release players. It is unlikely St George Illawarra will recruit another hooker to replace Luke but they are looking to bolster their forward depth with Graham departing. Graham has continued to train with the Dragons this week but he played his final game in the Red V last Saturday and was given an emotional send-off by team-mates and coach Paul McGregor after the 20-8 defeat of Gold Coast.” – nrl.com

Luke Gale

VIDEO: “Leeds Rhinos and England scrum-half Luke Gale joined the Golden Point Vodcast to discuss his career so far and the breaking news of a restart date for Super League.” – Sky Sports

Joe Burgess

“The winger is approaching the end of his contract at Wigan and he could be leaving his hometown club at the end of this season. Dom Manfredi’s return from injury saw Burgess slip to being Wigan’s third-choice winger before the season was halted, with Liam Marshall on the other flank. Burgess, though, is a potent attacking threat on his day and has had no shortage of interest – with the Red Devils among the clubs keeping track of him.” – Wigan Today

“Tony Smith expects Ben Crooks to be among the first off-contract players offered a new deal by Hull KR. Crooks impressed in the early stages of the Super League season, scoring seven tries in five games before sustaining a worrying neck injury against Castleford Tigers in February. There were fears the 27-year-old would miss the rest of the campaign but recent scans showed significant improvement and he has been told that he does not require surgery.” – Hull Daily Mail

“Harry Rushton hasn’t yet played in the first-team but has already attracted the attention of Canberra Raiders. League Express yesterday reported he was on their radar, and it is understood the 18-year-old is favouring a move Down Under. A former Shevington Sharks and St Pats junior, the forward has played for England at academy level and has been tipped for a bright future in the game.” – Wigan Today

“Although the financial impact inflicted by Covid-19 has left many clubs uncertain about squad plans for next year, it is inevitable for them all that work must be done, something that is particularly true for the Robins who lost their experienced former St Helens and Samoa prop Masoe to a career-ending spinal injury in January.” – Yorkshire Post

“Oliver Roberts will remain a Salford Red Devils player in 2021, after agreeing to join the club on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Giants. The Ireland international has impressed during his loan spell for the current season, with a strong performance in the Red Devils’ last match against Wigan Warriors. Roberts said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Salford, so this was a no-brainer.” – Super League

BLM

Jamaica Rugby League will be working with their host city Leeds very closely to break down barriers in the sport and in the community and have already have very positive discussions with Black Lives Matter, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds City Council, Black Health Initiative, West Indian Carnival Leeds and the World Cup 2021 committee.” – Leeds Rhinos

“We will focus on the actions we can take now, and continuous improvement. This means we will redouble our efforts to increase the number of Black and Minority Ethnic players, coaches, administrators, volunteers, fans, and supporters. The organisations in the sport will be unequivocal in how we deal with racism; and together we will make stronger use of our platforms to be anti-racism campaigners.” – Forty20

“The people behind a banner reading “White Lives Matter Burnley”, which was flown by a small plane over Manchester’s Etihad Stadium during a Premier League game, have been widely condemned. The sign was seen shortly after kick-off in Burnley’s match against Manchester City on Monday night, when players for both sides took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Police are now investigating the incident. Burnley FC called the banner “offensive” and said it would issue those responsible with lifetime bans.” – inews

Resumption Consumption

“Steve McNamara has welcomed news that Catalans can host matches with crowds from July – as the Dragons close in on England back rower Mike McMeeken for 2021. The French government will allow gatherings of up to 5,000 from next month, which should negate the need for McNamara’s squad to set up camp in England for an extended period. The Dragons will be the first team back in action once Super League confirms its new fixture list as they are three matches behind some clubs due to postponements.” – Mirror

Clubs had initially hoped to fulfill the scheduled 29-round league campaign, plus Challenge Cup, play-offs and title decider, but the length of the layoff – and desire to finish the season this year rather than dragging on into 2021 – seems to have ruled that out.” – Yorkshire Post

“Hull KR head coach Tony Smith has not given up hope of resuming the Super League season on home soil at Craven Park. The competition’s restart plans are set to be finalised later this week, which could include a revised fixture schedule for the rest of the campaign. Round eight is expected to take place on the weekend of August 15, with Rovers likely to play their game in hand against Toronto Wolfpack before that date.” – Hull Daily Mail

“Super League, the Rugby Football League and Sky Sports yesterday confirmed they had reached a settlement over the 2020 broadcast monies in light of coronavirus wreaking such havoc on the television schedule. It was decided clubs will receive their money in full for this season with the broadcaster taking a rebate – understood to be around £280,000 per club – next year. Clubs presently receive around £2m per season from Sky with their current deal expiring at the end of 2021.” – Yorkshire Post

“Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: “Rugby league’s 25-year relationship with Sky Sports has been built on a genuine partnership that has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 crisis. We are pleased to have reached an agreement which acknowledges the disruption to Sky Sports’ Super League schedules but gives our clubs greater financial certainty moving forward in these challenging times.” – loverugbyleague.com

Wakefield Investigation

“The Super League club bought their home venue from a third party last year after Wakefield Council loaned them just over £3m. But the National Crime Agency (NCA) is looking into the circumstances surrounding the deal and has spoken with top officials from both Trinity and the council, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands.” – The Telegraph and Argus