SUPER LEAGUE News & Rumours – May 25, 2020: “Speaking Inglis”

The Inglis is Coming! Super League Zeroes in on August Restart and Everybody's Mad. Challenge Cup Blues. PLUS: Doctors Chime In.


NEWS & RUMOURS – MAY 25, 2020

Looks like Super League officials are zeroing on August 16th for the relaunch of the season. News is leaking, not everybody is happy about it and everybody has an opinion on how to bring it back: 

“Super League clubs are currently looking over three proposals for the restart of the season. The fact the report was leaked to the press has not sat well with some club chairmen, but the details are now in the public domain with a series of options as to when and how the campaign will finish. The proposals have one common theme, a start date of August 16 for the competition to resume proper, with a commitment to play the Challenge Cup final. What varies is how many games the season will include and when the Grand Final will be held.” – Hull Daily Mail


Hetherington is “disappointed” the proposals – due to be considered by the Rugby Football League this week – were leaked to the media and says no decisions have yet been made. Details of Super League’s possible restart plan – which Hetherington was involved in drawing up – were broken by the BBC last week. The document lists three options, all based on fixtures resuming in August and fans being allowed into stadiums from October 1. “It is disappointing a Super League club has chosen to leak this information,” Hetherington said. – Yorkshire Post


“Warrington Wolves, of course, have flexed their muscles earlier this week by making the staggering signing of Australia superstar Greg Inglis for 2021. Given their ability to spend big, they understandably want to be able to at least maintain the current cap, not see it drop. But Hudgell – a long-term supporter of the salary cap which was first introduced in 1998 – wants tighter controls. “I am starting to question why we have a cap; it isn’t adequately policed,” he conceded. “We don’t even get audited every year. And then it’s light touch. It’s nothing like in the NRL.” – Yorkshire Post


The 12 Super League sides are also hoping that matches can be played in front of crowds from October 1st. The plans would see the Grand Final played on one of three dates, with November 28, December 12 and some point in mid-January 2021 all set to be considered.”


“Sometimes, players wouldn’t even speak with the doctor about symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection (like COVID-19); now they will be assessed and managed with much more caution. If we think it’s COVID-related, they will have to be isolated and that brings huge challenges for a sporting club when so many people are in close contact. The RFL will have to provide some direction.” Dr Dhand did admit, however, that the notion of waiting until the virus has been completely eradicated might be unwise. He said: “It will be a challenge to get sport going again, but we have to think that potentially this virus could persist over a number of months. Is there ever going to be no risk?” –


“It’s OK to simply say: ‘Put all the players in quarantine,’ but that comes with huge risks; if there is an outbreak locally, does quarantine intensify those risks? There are enormous mental health aspects which people may be overlooking linked to quarantining players, too. Medical staff are going to be vital in making sure sport gets going again, which we all want. But it may take some time to get things right.” – The Guardian


Greg Inglis is joining the Warrington Wolves and the World of Super League is on fire about it:

“Warrington – who confirmed the news with a video message from ‘GI’ this afternoon – already have two ‘marquee’ players on their books in England stand-off Gareth Widdop – who played alongside Inglis at Melbourne Storm in 2010 – and Australian half-back Blake Austin. His arrival should prove another boost for the sport’s profile after the arrival of Sonny Bill Williams at Toronto Wolfpack this season while the controversial Israel Folau is another big-name star who has switched to the competition with Catalans Dragons.”- Yorkshire Post


“The deal was finalised on Monday afternoon when Inglis was granted a UK work permit. Warrington were set to announce the signing overnight. Inglis’ stunning return to rugby league will shock many considering the tough personal journey that has followed his retirement. The seeds of his comeback were only planted a month ago while talking to former Souths teammate Jason Clark, who played alongside Inglis in the club’s 2014 premiership side and now plays for the Wolves.” – The Sydney Morning Herald


“In the same way that Sonny Bill Williams’ capture by Toronto Wolfpack grabbed headlines for Super League 2020, Inglis’ appearances across Super League grounds next year is set to be a tremendous filip for crowds in this country and TV audiences on both sides of the world. Warrington are labelling it as one of the biggest signings in Betfred Super League history.” – St. Helen Star


“But there were other times before he retired when he seemed distracted by things in his personal life. I think we’re going to see the superstar version that will light up Super League. One thing he has going for him is that at Warrington, he will have a great team manager in Kylie Leuluai, another ex-team-mate of mine. He will provide the kind of safe, familiar environment that will allow Greg to produce his best form”. – The Mirror


There seems to be a small exodus of NRL players expressing interest in Super League during the corona virus hiatus. Important to note that most of the bigger names are on the down side of their careers:

“Former Golden Boot winner Benji Marshall is being linked with a potential move to Super League next season. The 35-year-old half-back and NRL Grand Final winner is out of contract at Wests Tigers at the end of this year and could be ready to follow the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Greg Inglis by trying his hand at Super League. League Express are today reporting the NRL star’s representatives are exploring potential options on these shores for the playmaker, who could be forced out of Wests due to salary cap pressure at the club.” – Hull Daily Mail


The Wire said they hoped the signing would boost supporters currently experiencing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Like every other sport, league has been sidelined for two months and doubts remain over when it will return. July’s Challenge Cup final – of which Warrington are the holders – was postponed today and the sport has also received a £16million Government loan to help it through.”This signing is a gift to every one of our fantastic members and partners who are currently experiencing difficult times,” said Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick.” –


Regarded as one of the best in the modern era, the back end of Inglis’ career had been quite misfortunate. A series of injuries forced the star player into retirement, whilst a drink-driving and speeding offence in October 2018 led to the Queensland hero being stripped of the Australian Kangaroos captaincy. The player’s welfare came into question and many seemed worried around the rugby league world.” –


Ratu Naulago will make the code switch and depart from Hull FC following the season:

Naulago, who made such a big impact after joined from the British Army’s union 7s side last year, will depart the Airlie Birds at the end of the season. Strong, with lightning pace and excellent finishing skills, he quickly made the transition to league after a successful trial period and proved one of Super League’s big finds. But Naulago, 28, is out of contract at the end of this campaign and has opted to return home closer to his family in the south-west.” – Yorkshire Post


“Hull FC winger Ratu Naulago will switch codes at the end of the Super League season to join Premiership rugby union side Bristol Bears. The Fiji-born 28-year-old joined the Black and Whites in February 2019 after impressing during a trial spell. It will be a switch back to union for Naulago, who previously won the Premiership 7s title with Saracens.” –


Wigan fave John Bateman keeps it real about NRL options:

Canberra want him to extend his stay at the club but say salary cap pressures may prevent them from offering as much money as some other NRL clubs. “People are saying ‘Oh, you’re being greedy’,” Bateman told the Sydney Morning Herald. Tell me which person in day to day life wouldn’t think about leaving their job if they could get more money for potentially double the length of time? Of course you think about it.” – Wigan Today


Israel Falou remains a hot commodity in rugby league as the Catalan Dragons fight successfully to retain their newest star despite the controversey that comes attached:

“Controversial star Israel Folau is set to stay with the Catalans Dragons. Officials from the Super League club are confident that Folau will extend his contract with the club for the 2021 season after Folau rejected an offer to return to rugby union, reports It is believed that NRL clubs have been monitoring Folau’s progresss.” –


The Sydney rugby league club was said to have put out the feelers to see if the former Wallabies star would be interested in returning to Australia but were told it was not an option for the 31-year-old. However, the club did not make a formal offer, the report says.” – TVNZ


Huddersfield sign Wardle:

“Coach Simon Woolford believes the former England academy international, who came through Huddersfield’s youth system, has a big future in the sport and at the club“Jake is a smart kid who has a fantastic understanding of the game,” said Woolford. “He’s a quiet kid who doesn’t say a lot, but certainly makes a lot of sense when he does.” – 


Sonny Bill Williams:

“Cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams left his mark on the world of Rugby Union but after the failed World Cup 2019 campaign, he said goodbye to New Zealand and the All Blacks, jumping codes to League once again, joining up with the Toronto Wolfpack on a two-year deal. During his time in the All Blacks midfield, Williams, who had Super Rugby stints with the Chiefs, Crusaders, and Blues, developed into arguably the greatest offloader in the game. If nothing else, his sheer size and fitness were a constant menace for the opposition.” –


VIDEO: Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams has revealed how he fell asleep on a team bus going to Eden Park last year after eating too much. –


“Toronto Wolfpack look to be fighting a losing battle to play games on home soil, this year, according to CEO Bob Hunter. With the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, announcing the cancellation of all major events and festivals in the city until the end of August, the Wolfpack won’t be able to feature at the Lamport Stadium for some time. However, with discussions about games going ahead behind closed doors and restrictions being put on global travel, Brian McDermott’s side will more than likely play their home games in England at a neutral venue.” – The Hull Daily Mail


“Where we are, given the guidelines given in each country and the department of health services, the allowance to return to training under strict rules and procedures, what has always been contemplated is to start with closed stadium games. That’s to get the game back up, in front of our fans, to provide Sky Sports with content they desperately need.” On pay cuts at the club, Hunter said: “They were reluctant, but I totally got it that for the league to survive it was an easy economic.” –


Super League clubs are split on spending to save themselves:

“The hope is that by reducing, it will help to level the playing field, with some clubs likely to have the ability to spend significantly more than others in the months ahead unless changes are made. However, according to a report by League Express, the league is split on whether reducing the salary cap is fair. The report claims West Yorkshire clubs Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity have backed the idea to cut the cap by 15 per cent, fearing the integrity of the competition could be compromised in future seasons…” – Hull Daily Mail


As expected the Challenge Cup has been postponed. October dates are being bandied about but the classic tournament is in real jeopardy of being cancelled in 2020:

“This year saw the final brought forward to Saturday July 18 in the hope of giving it some breathing room away from the play-offs and the Grand Final, but that date will no longer be achievable with rugby league unlikely to resume until July at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic. The news won’t come as a surprise, given the sixth round and quarter-finals have already been lost and the semi-finals were due to be played on June 6.” – Hull Daily Mail


“The Yorkshire Evening Post revealed in March that the RFL have looked at moving the Cup final to Old Trafford on October 10, the date and venue originally set for this year’s Betfred Super League Grand Final. However, the RFL say they have not given up hope of the final still being played at the national stadium. An RFL spokesman confirmed: “The finals have been postponed, but not cancelled.” – Yorkshire Post


St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus on empty stands stance:

“While echoing a statement recently made by Hull FC owner Adam Pearson, who also stressed the need to get supporters back watching games, McManus knows behind closed doors games will be Super League’s immediate future. Those games could take place at one or two stadiums, with McManus suggesting neutral grounds may be the way forward to reduce costs and for safety reasons. Super League owners and CEOs will meet tomorrow to discuss the latest plan to restart the game following the latest government advice on sport being allowed to commence again from June 1 under strict guidelines.” – Hull Daily Mail


“Step two, to begin no earlier than June 1, includes “Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”. Saints chairman Eamonn McManus, speaking on the Saints TV podcast earlier this week, said the way forward for rugby league is being worked on.” – St. Helens Star


Following a remote meeting of the RFL and Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs this afternoon (Wednesday), two working groups have been set up to consider the issues surrounding the possible resumption of the sport at this level. One of the groups will consider the costs and other logistics surrounding matches taking place behind closed doors for broadcast. The Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy published earlier this week clarified that they would permit “cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact” to begin “no earlier than Monday 1 June.”


Castleford Tigers Head Daryl Powell: “Lacking income through the gate, clubs will be desperate to keep matchday expenses as low as possible and double- or triple-headers are being considered as a way of doing that. “It would be cost and safety,” said Powell, whose side faced Toronto Wolfpack in the first part of a Super League double-header at Leeds’ Rhinos’ Headingley Stadium in February. “You are only opening one venue, everybody – doctors and players – go to one place, it is minimising risk and reducing cost which is pretty important for the sport at the moment.” – Yorkshire Post


Wolfpack star Darcy Lussick has concerns over Super League restart:

“It leaves players still uncertain of the future with Lussick said: “There are a lot of logistics and hurdles to jump over. It is up to the powers-that-be to find what is safe. I don’t mind playing behind-closed-doors but we’re going to have to be very careful because every squad has about 30 people who are coming into contact with lots of other people. I think that, while ever there are still new coronavirus cases every day, then it is simply not safe to be starting the season again.” – Daily Star


“While the uncertain shape of this campaign will be unique, Tony Clubb reckons the circumstances would only heighten the achievement of winning the title. “I think it would mean more than normal,” said Clubb, a Grand Final winner with Wigan in 2018. “From what we’ve been told it may go on to November, there may be midweek matches – everyone will be out of their comfort zone. –


As Super League faces the COVID-19 crisis and charts an uncertain future the suggestions and calls for changes to the sport are piling up, for better or for worse:

“The Super League season has been suspended since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Price believes the physicality of today’s game means that playing three games a week would put his players at serious risk. “To play three games in a week in today’s game is a lot different to what the gentlemen used to do back in the olden days. –


Niall Evalds isn’t making nay new friends inSalford with his surprise departure that has both sides crying foul:

“Salford say they are “extremely disappointed” after star full-back Niall Evalds opted to join Castleford for 2021. Salford have revealed they twice believed they had successfully concluded negotiations on talks of an extension with Evalds – only to find out that he had agreed to join Castleford. A club statement read: “Salford Red Devils are extremely disappointed with the decision made by Niall Evalds and his representative, for the full-back to end his time at the club following the conclusion of the 2020 season.” –


“Huddersfield Giants have confirmed that young first team stars Sam Hewitt and Jon-Luke Kirby have both signed contract extensions to stay at the club. Hewitt has made 13 appearances at the top level for the Giants last year after debuting in 2018, whilst Kirby has made three senior appearances to date, with both penning deals until the end of 2022.” –


Huddersfield have confirmed the re-signing of 21-year-old forwards Sam Hewitt and Jon Luke Kirby on deals until the end of 2022. Back rower Hewitt has made 14 appearances for the club after debuting against Leeds in 2018, whilst also playing several times for Halifax on dual-registration. Prop Kirby, meanwhile, made his debut in 2019 and has gone on to make two further appearances, as well as featuring for Halifax and Hunslet.” –


Hull KR coach Tony Smith insists there has to be an acceptance across the game that the rules need to change this season. Super League is edging a little closer to a restart following government advice that sporting events can resume from June 1. A return for rugby league is still unlikely before July and with the pressure on to save the sport, talk is of completing a full season of fixtures to ensure the integrity of the competition and secure vital television money. – Hull Daily Mail


“I do agree that it is good to take the game to new areas. However, I don’t believe the format of Magic Weekend is beneficial for the game. An extra round also makes the table seem slightly lopsided. Especially considering there are some wild scores there. For me, I believe it either needs to be an exhibition event, so a friendly event before the start of the season or something like that, or it needs to be part of a round, and not a separate one.” –


VIDEO: “Warrington Wolves’ Stefan Ratchford says asking top players to play three times a week when Super League returns may not be physically possible.” – Sky Sports


“Leeds will not be punished for not travelling to Perpignan to face Catalans in March before action was officially suspended. The Super League fixture was scheduled for Saturday, March 14 – but the Rhinos pulled out on the eve of the game after one of their players displayed symptoms of coronavirus. The game was due to go ahead behind closed doors but Leeds decided not to travel – and the whole sport was then suspended due to the pandemic on March 16. –


The longshot:

“Full odds from Paddy Power: WHO WILL BE MIKE TYSON NEXT OPPONENT?

2/1 Evander Holyfield

4/1 Lennox Lewis

6/1 Roy Jones Jr

8/1 Riddick Bowe

10/1 John Fury

10/1 Danny Williams

20/1 Sonny Bill Wiliams

25/1 Frank Bruno

25/1 Tony Bellew

200/1 Conor McGregor”