The spotlight is on the Grima’s capital challenge. London Broncos and Tony Rea have parted company after 12 straight defeats in all competitions.
Finding themselves without a home and having to contend with what amounted to a mass exodus of first team players at the end of last season, it appeared that Super League may lose the only professional club in the capital.
Thankfully Barnet provided London with a place to play and Rea was tasked with building a squad almost from scratch and it is because of this that I have a lot of sympathy for him after working in what has been one of the most challenging period in the club’s history.
I don’t think any other coach could have being able to do much better considering the amount of time Rea had to put together a squad capable of competing at this level, to the point where the season had already started and Rea was still bringing people in.
Despite all the difficulties he faced, Rea always handled the situation with dignity and he should be applauded for that.
Rea’s assistant Joe Grima, who played and coached at Parramatta for 19 years and was assistant coach to Ricky Stuart at Cronulla for three years, will take over immediately.
Good luck, Joe. I think you’ll need it.
Try of the week: I can’t look past Warrington full back Matty Russell who showed such strength and to get the the try line despite being held by two Bradford defenders. After taking a slip pass from Micky Higham, the Scotland international evaded an attempted Elliott Kear tackle and wrestled away from Lee Gaskell to score a try he had no right to. It was a wonderfully determined effort.
Class in a glass: Luke Walsh continues to impress for St Helens and his look away inside pass to Jonny Lomax that Led to Tommy Makinson’s try against London on Thursday was sublime. That was attacking Rugby League at its best.
Salford in major Locke coup: Salford have pulled off a massive coup by snaring New Zealand Warriors’ international full back Kevin Locke for the 2015 season.
Locke played a big role in New Zealand’s charge to the 2013 World Cup final, where they lost to Australia at Old Trafford in November.
This is a major statement of intent by owner Marwan Koukash, who has stated that he will stop at nothing to bring success to the Red Devils.
Despite numerous public indications by the good doctor that they were in the market for high profile players of the Billy Slater and Sam Tomkins ilk, this is Salford’s first genuine world class signing. Locke will light up Super League with his great speed and agility and I am very excited to see him play over here.
Salford supporters are in for a real treat next season.
Leaderboard: Leeds dominated against Wigan and remain top by a single point. Widnes’ late win over Hull KR sees them join Wigan on 14 points and Bradford are finally off the foot of the league thanks to victory over Warrington. London are in big trouble.
1 (1) Leeds 9-1-1 ————————
2 (3) St Helens 9-0-2
3 (2) Castleford 8-0-3
4 (-) Wigan 7-0-3
5 (-) Widnes 7-0-3
6 (7) Huddersfield 5-2-4
7 (6) Hull FC 5-0-6
8 (-) Warrington 5-0-6
9 (10) Catalan 5-0-6
10 (9) Hull KR 4-1-6
11 (-) Salford 4-0-7
12 (-) Wakefield 3-0-8
13 (14) Bradford 3-0-8*
14 (13) London 0-0-11
*Bradford deducted 6 points for entering administration.
Player movements: Bradford’s use of the loan market has moved into unchartered territory with the signing of Huddersfield forward Antonio Kaufusi for a month. Castleford have moved to ease their injury woes with the signing of Limoux prop Lee Jewitt until the end of the season. New London coach Joe Grima has made 24-year-old Limoux forward Maime Herold his first signing since taking over from Tony Rea.
Suspension: Adam Walker (Hull KR) – 1 game for Grade B dangerous tackle against Widnes.
Rumourmill: Hull KR have taken an interest in tricky French hooker Eloi Pellissier after learning of interest in Josh Hodgson from the NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Pointless drop goal: With around 10 minutes remaining of Hull KR’s match with Widnes, half back Travis Burns slotted over a one-pointer to put the home side 7 points up but 2 tries for the visitors cancelled it out.
Beard watch: Salford’s Gareth Hock is currently sporting a shapely piece that was displayed in the Catalan sunshine at the weekend. I must also give a mention to NZ Warriors fan Cliff Callanan, who’s distinctive look is great to see on the old social media.
Ipso Facto: Loan market aficionados Bradford have signed 13 players from fellow Super League clubs this season.
Ipso Facto: London have now conceded an average of 44 points in their first 11 league games. Their average score is just 13.
Ipso Facto: Catalan have won their last 2 home games against Hull KR and Salford by the same scoreline. In both games they were 16-0 up early on, went in at half time losing, and won the games 37-24. Strangely, Greg Eden, nowe on loan at Salford from Hull KR, scored in both games.
Quote of the week: ”For me it’s his defence this year, it’s being unbelievable. I think defensively there’s not a better full back in the world. I think he’s better than Billy Slater, better than anybody down in the NRL.” Jamie Peacock, talking to Tanya Arnold, on in-form team mate Zak Hardaker.
Final thought: If you want a good example of what the licencing system was supposed to achieve then look no further than Denis Betts and Widnes.
The Chemics have benefited massively from having time to settle into the league, build a squad and develop their club as a whole without the threat of relegation in their first season back.
They finished bottom in their first season before improving greatly last year, and now they sit joint fourth with Wigan on 14 points and have a string of impressive wins under their belts already.
They are a real credit to Rugby League.