SUPER LEAGUE News & Rumours – April 24, 2020: “Corona Casualties”

Magic Weekend disappears. Super League prefers the long way. Lussick and Asofa-Solomona ready to rumble? PLUS: Loan Denied and Kind Words for Watkins.

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Super League honcho Robert Elstone calls the postponement of Magic Weekend “unavoidable” writes the Yorkshire Post: “The competition, which has been suspended for more than a month, bowed to the inevitable by calling off the event scheduled for Newcastle’s St James’ Park on May 23 and 24. Scrapping the showpiece festival, when an entire round of matches is staged at one venue over two days, is an option under consideration as Super League battles with the thorny issue of when, how and in what format the competition will resume following its shutdown due to Covid-19.”

Liam Watts reflects on his departure from Hull FC, calling decision to join Castleford one of the best he’s ever made: “It has really settled me down, family-wise, and in my mind as well. I was getting a little bit erratic at the back end of my Hull career. I think that was a little bit of agitation and I had a bit of stuff going on in my personal life. Coming back to Castleford it all seemed to ease.

Total RL takes a stab at some of the changes that may be forced upon the Super League schedule should the season resume: “That includes deciding whether the season will be played in full, the play-off structure, the prospect of a delayed Magic Weekend, the logistical issues surrounding Catalans and Toronto and the end date of the season: “The ability to play the season out in full will depend largely on the government, and when they decide to allow sport to return. Meticulous planning ahead of the season resumption has already taken place, with a number of possibilities drawn up for various return dates. However, there is a hunger to have a clearer picture of exactly how the season will be played out, and discussions this week will ensure there is a definitive plan in place for each of the different potential return dates proposed.”

A Super League Christmas might be in the making this year according to league execs in this wigantoday.net article: “However, Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington says the campaign will run “probably up to Christmas” when it does get underway. “Scrapping the six additional ‘loop’ games – as well as the Magic Weekend – would reduce the congestion but he revealed he is not in favour of playing fewer matches and believes a December finish is possible.”

What is it with rugby players and boxing? Months after his victorious debut Toronto Wolfpack player Darcy Lussick is being called out by Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona of the NRL: “Promoter Matthew Rose announced that talks have been made about the potential fight in the past 48 hours after Asofa-Solomona challenged Lussick on Instagram saying: “When you fight a retired back…Darcy Lussick if you want a real fight I’d happily jab your face off for easy money”.

Toronto Wolfpack’s Darcy Lussick celebrates after winning his boxing debut in December, 2019. (photo: IG: @darcy_lussick)

Don’t confuse somebody understanding something for them liking it. Here’s Super League agent Lestyn Harris talking about the partnership involved in pay cuts: “The vast majority of top flight clubs have put various wage cut deals to their players as they look to secure their survival in difficult times. Former Great Britain international Harris – who acts for a host of leading Super League stars – says the players understand the position their employers are in. And he rejected suggestions from other representatives that the cuts could lead to some walking out on their current deals.

Veteran Luke Gale has some deep and personal thoughts on the Super League return of Kallum Watkins: “If he does join Toronto, which is what the media are reporting, he will be a big signing for them and it’s a challenge for Kallum. They will have signed a quality player, but Toronto haven’t got off to the best of starts and it’s never easy going into that sort of situation. As a big-name signing he will be under pressure to perform but, on the other hand, the environment might suit him. There’s a few ex-Leeds boys there so they’ll help him settle in and Brian McDermott is a coach who knows how to get the best out of him.”

Times are pretty tough when you cant even get a loan approved from your own banking partner. That’s what happened to Hull FC this past week when Barclay’s rejected the team’s loan request: “Speaking to Hull Live, Mr. Pearson has issued a strong criticism of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Barclays CEO Matt Hammerstein after the club were denied a loan which would have helped them get through a period with little to no income with the sport on hold during lockdown. Admitting FC’s existence is ‘under severe threat right now’, he is enraged that weeks of applications to Barclays, the club’s banking partner, has resulted in a request for a loan being rejected on what he says are onerous rules making it impossible to receive vital cash support.

Peter Smith writes that there is no answer to please everybody in Super League’s COVID-19 solution: “There seems to be an acceptance that, once lockdown restrictions are eased or lifted, games may resume, but behind closed doors. Nobody really wants that. The atmosphere a crowd generates makes any sport a better spectacle for armchair viewers, lifts players and – of course – gate, hospitality and other matchday receipts provide vital income for the home club. If the turnstiles stay shut, pass holders will not get what they paid for at the start of the year and clubs would still face the expense of staging a game, without income coming in.”