Title rivals locked
Sky Bet's Nigel Askham puts the questions to rugby league trader Dave Sykes ahead of round six of Super League, the NRL and the opening week of the Championship
Last Updated: 09/03/12 6:39pm
Atkins: Snubbed by England but a real danger to the Rhinos.
Q: Leeds and Warrington do battle at Headingley in what should be a thriller. Where has the money been going and could we be looking at this being a rehearsal for the Grand Final?
At the moment we can't separate the sides and go a Scratch handicap with the early money being for Warrington.
Even though it is only Round Six this could definitely be the two contesting the final in October on the form we have seen so far although Wigan and Catalan have both made strong starts to the season as well.
Sky Bet Odds
Weekend hanicaps - Leeds (scratch) v Warrington; St Helens v Hull (+10); Catalans v Salford (+16); London (+2) v Castleford; Hull KR v Bradford (+10); Widnes (+36) v Wigan; Wakefield (+12) v Huddersfield. Bet now
Q: Rhinos winger Ryan Hall bagged another couple of tries against Castleford last week and looks in cracking form. Where does he sit in the top try scorer market?
Currently our joint second favourite in the betting at 6/1 with Joel Monaghan. Wigan's Josh Charnley heads the market at 4/1.
It's still early days in this betting heat with some surprising early contenders with the likes of Josh Griffin and Leroy Cudjoe notching a few early tries.
Q: Another man in form is Warrington's Ryan Atkins, although he was amazingly snubbed in midweek by England coach Steve McNamara. Have you seen money for him?
No, the punters haven't been interested in Atkins for top try scorer, probably due to the plethora of possible try scorers within the Warrington squad as they tend to share the tries.
I'd probably say he's the form centre in Super League so it was very surprising he didn't make the Elite Training squad.
I reckon he has requested not to be considered for selection although McNamara hasn't included Castleford's young hooker Daryl Clark in the Knights squad which is equally puzzling.
Q: The other televised game sees Hull KR take on the Bulls who were much improved albeit in defeat against Warrington last week. Is that reflected in the market?
Not really as Bradford can be backed with a double figure start as Hull KR have been very impressive despite numerous injury problems. Bradford have been better on their travels this season winning two from two so there is hope for the Bulls supporters this weekend.
Q: St Helens will be keen to bounce back from their narrow defeat at Huddersfield at home to Hull but have lost James Roby for a month through injury. Would you fancy Hull on the handicap?
This is another tough game to call with Hull receiving ten points on the handicap, the Black and Whites have been disappointing after an encouraging start to the season, only just getting past Wakefield last time out and losing at Salford in their last away fixture.
Losing Roby is a massive blow to St Helens but I think Lance Hohaia can cover for him and I'd take Saints to win and cover the line.
Q: The Championship gets underway this weekend and looks more competitive than ever. Where's the money going so far?
Despite losing their coach and key players Donlan, Nanyn and Ellis during the off-season the Leigh Centurions have been massive movers in the ante-post market for the Championship, moving from 20/1 rags to 4/1 second favourites.
Their starting thirteen definitely looks capable and they have sailed through the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup so it's currently looking good for those who got on at fancy odds.
Q: The first round of NRL matches has taken place Down Under with reigning champions Manly defeating New Zealand Warriors in a repeat of last season's final. Are the Sea Eagles still the team to beat despite the loss of coach Des Hasler?
Manly set the benchmark but Wests and Newcastle remain the most popular with the punters and having watched both play last weekend supporters could be rewarded come the finals as Newcastle looked really good despite a Golden Point defeat to the Dragons. The Tigers will be looking to give popular Englishman Gareth Ellis a fitting send-off in his final season with a Grand Final winners ring.
Q: Finally, your tip for the weekend?
Catalans (10/11) are traditionally strong at home and I can see Salford struggling in the south of France so would take the hosts to win and cover the handicap.