SL 2010 is over and we have new champions in Wigan, one of the big four but still a welcome change from the recent Leeds v St Helens Grand Finals. Nobody can say that Wigan are not worthy champions as they were consistently the best team all year and I predict they will have some difficulty holding on to coach Michael McGuire who will be in big demand within the NRL. Spare a thought too for Mick Potter who did a great job at St Helens and reached two consecutive Grand Finals with team in transition including some very talented youngsters. I'm sure Bradford will be happy with a similar record.
After a long hard season we now send our tired players to compete in the Four Nations against our friends from down under. I personally think it would make more sense to hold international competitions during June/July when the players are fresh but this would need detailed advanced planning by the RLIF which has never happened before. It would also mean players would have to be released by their SL/NRL clubs during the domestic season as happens in cricket, RU etc. Maybe central contracts would help this. It won’t happen.
Other sports e.g. RU and cricket give a priority to international competition and expand while we prioritise domestic competitions and stagnate.
I think we all remember our last visit to the southern hemisphere and our abysmal performances during the 2008 World Cup. We won our first match against PNG but they almost overwhelmed us with their desire and enthusiasm. Our highly paid players with big reputations seemed to go to pieces under pressure and couldn't perform even basic skills. I don't really expect us to win in 2010 but lets hope we can perform to our potential and at the very least play with pride and desire. We should attempt to do to our opposition what PNG did to us - remember the first tackle of the match
Steve MacNamara is our coach and his Bradford side have certainly not been impressive this year but he is English and a very experienced as a player at all levels. He was assistant coach during the last visit so he should know what not to do and Steve will be assisted by Brian Smith who has a long track record of success with a wide range of clubs. Here's hoping.
Many fans will be joining our boys in the Southern Hemisphere and I wish them well. The England RU team have adopted "Swing Low" as their song which has it's roots in the southern states of the USA. Maybe the England RL team should adopt a similar fans strategy and I suggest "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks which also has it's origins in the USA
Anybody got a better suggestion?