Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Brian Carney's eye-catchers: Race for Qualifers hotting up, ARL taking aim at international game?
Last Updated: 17/07/18 4:52pm
Brian Carney on the race for the Qualifiers - and those looking to avoid them - and proposed international changes...
Hung, drawn and quartered
There were two matches of massive importance on Sky Sports on Thursday and Friday last week, and both ended in draws which has sparked interest.
First the Wolves ended up with a point against the Dragons, then Leeds and Wakefield shared the spoils on Friday night.
The first thing I will say is that although some people have called for it, I find Golden Point unnecessary unless it's a knock-out game. Both of the draws offered plenty of entertainment in terms of the 80 minutes, as well as what the results means for the rest of the season. I also feel a draw was a fair result in both encounters.
We aren't much wiser when it comes to predicting the top eight and bottom four of Super League, but the current run of Huddersfield is keeping things on a knife edge, and a win for them over the Tigers this Friday would really start to make things interesting. Salford are gone, and while Hull KR aren't yet out, they are holding on by a thread.
If Wakefield, Catalans the Giants record one win in their last two games, Leeds are in the bottom four. Troubling time for the Rhinos, coming in the same week in which Ryan Hall has confirmed he will be leaving the club at the end of the current season.
The race to avoid the Qualifiers is really hotting up in Super League…
Just as the Super League clubs jostle to avoid the Qualifiers, the Championship sides are starting to edge out their rivals in a race to nab a spot in the Qualifiers.
One of the biggest talking points from the second tier was London's win over Halifax on Sunday. In last week's episode of Golden Point, we reviewed the top-four credentials of those in contention, and Baz and Tez both said they felt the Broncos would not feature in the Qualifiers. I imagine they will be scrambling to make new predictions now.
Bering in mind that Toronto are safe at the top, there are five sides gunning for the remaining three places. London's result means they hang onto fourth spot, but on the same number of competition points as Halifax, and Leigh just one competition point behind them.
Who will get the goods? Next up for London is Featherstone away, while Halifax take on Toulouse. We might yet see the Centurions finish the regular season inside the top four, as they have an eminently winnable game against Swinton next up.
There are twists and turns aplenty as we approach round 23 in the Betfred Championship as well as Super League!
Aussies taking aim at RLIF?
Australia Rugby League have proposed changes to the international calendar in 2019. If you look at it on the surface the proposal is innocent enough, and even positive in some ways, but Nigel Wood has expressed his surprise in a press release, mentioning two factors - what's been proposed is not what was initially agreed, and the way the ARL have made the announcement is not the way to go about proposing changes.
What exactly are the Australians playing at? Is it a shot across the pond from the Australian game aimed at the RLIF?
It's fair to say, at the very least, that the way they've made the proposal public is an indication of how they feel about the RLIF. Because if the Australians held the RLIF in high regard, a unilateral announcement would not be how that proposal came to light. It certainly raises the question as to how the Aussie power brokers view the people in charge of the international game.
Remember that John Grant was ousted by the NRL clubs, then ended up in the International federation. Nigel Wood then left his position in Super League and joined Grant. What it means is that there is history as well as personalities at play here.
It certainly puts huge pressure on Grant and Wood, whose appointments in the RLIF raised plenty of eyebrows north and south of the equator. All will be discussed with Terry O'Connor and Phil Clarke on Golden Point on Thursday night as our sport enters another fascinating chapter.