Leeds form, disappointing play-off crowds and the frightening NRL skills make Brian Carney's Set of Six.
Last Updated: 28/09/11 11:04am
Each week Brian Carney takes a look at six moments in Super League that have made the headlines - and not always for the right reasons!
Players, coaches and decisions all come under Brian's scrutiny as he picks his 'Set of Six'.
Find out who and what caught Brian's eye this week - and then use the feedback form below to have your say...
I don't want to do Leeds a disservice but I am opposed to them being called the form team heading into the last four. They have won games but that is different to being in form and I believe this will be an unsuccessful season for the Rhinos. I believe that they have limped into the final four and I don't see them getting past this round. I think they have got some quality players but I also think they need some quality additions to their squad for next year. I think Wigan, St Helens and Warrington are very strong and I think that those three are capable of winning the Grand Final. I would have to say that Warrington are favourites but St Helens are the dark horse for me. It is unusual to call the Saints "dark horses" but they have just been so efficient this season, going about their business with little fuss but getting the results. Who knows, they may also get all their top players back just at the right time. I do think Warrington will have too much for Leeds but the one I am finding difficult to call will be Wigan and St Helens.
PLAY OFF ATTENDANCES
These have been very poor and I have heard a lot of reasons for this. I have heard it's the economy and that season tickets are not applicable during the play-off series. Whatever the reasons, something has to be done about it. Other sports talk about auditing teams performances when they hit the play-offs to see whether they have done everything they can to promote games etc. But just under seven thousand to watch potentially Wigan's last game of the season is incredibly poor. You may well ask what does it matter, but it matters on all fronts. If it is a barometer of the popularity of the game then we are in trouble. It looks bad on TV when you advertise these do-or-die games and there are less than seven thousand fans there. This is not just aimed at Wigan - the play-off attendances were all very poor and the RFL, instead of worrying about Club Call and things like that, should be doing some solid promotion to boost attendances. The season is supposed to be building to a Grand Final crescendo but that does not seem to be the case. It needs to be investigated.
MAN OF STEEL CONTENDERS
If you decide to go to the game or watch it on Sky you will get to see two of the three Man of Steel candidates in action on Saturday night. Sam Tomkins and James Roby will be doing their very best for Wigan and St Helens respectively with the other contender, Rangi Chase no doubt watching from home. I think there would be little argument if any of these three win it but I think people are disappointed that Michael Monaghan is not on the list. I do appreciate that they are chosen by the players but Monaghan is surely one of the top three players in Super League. Out of those three I would have to go a bit left field and throw out James Roby as my 2011 Man of Steel winner.
There is a need to be constantly assessing the structure, strength of and the quality of your competition. I have been particularly critical of the quality of sides that have been crawling in to the play-offs. We are ending up with very uncompetitive sides in the semi-finals. When you decide not to go first past the post you leave yourself open and you need extra vigilance to make sure it works. We now offer play-off spaces to more than 50% of the sides in the league - we have teams with losing seasons getting in. By losing seasons I mean they have lost more games than they have won. I think we need a revamp - we wouldn't if we had a more competitive league and we would have a more competitive league if more teams spent the salary cap. None of these can work in isolation - if you want to stick to the top eight then you have to get teams to spend the salary cap.
NRL GRAND FINAL
The Warriors have been immense to get there. In the year when they have the rugby union world cup in New Zealand; the Warriors have managed to divert a lot of attention onto themselves. They have done it the hard way beating West Tigers and then Melbourne Storm in the semi-finals. Shaun Johnson is a player that people need to keep an eye out for on Sunday morning on Sky Sports, he is partnering James Maloney in the halves for New Zealand Warriors. They will be up against Manly pairing of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran - Foran is a real talent too. It should be a cracking game and not one to be missed.
We are building towards that time of year and it is looking as though once again we will be up against two very talented Australia and New Zealand teams. Some of the young talent on display in the NRL this year is frightening. It should make for a very interesting tournament, but England will want all of their players available to make any sort of inroads.