Time for some domestic self-help

Dave Hadfield says rugby league's learning process must start at home

The return to domestic rugby this weekend will be a test of all British sides' ability to refocus after their assorted disappointments and disasters in the World Club Championship.

On the face of it, the first- and second-placed sides in the Stones Super League, Bradford and Leeds, have more incentive than most to get back to business successfully at Headingley tomorrow.

Leeds, faced with what seemed beatable opposition in Australia, came home chastened and empty-handed. More damaging still for British hopes in the competition, Bradford, unbeaten in the league, lost three times at home to their Southern Hemisphere visitors.

The extra concern now is how they will respond to their failure. The initial signs were not good, their chairman, Chris Caisley, reacting furiously to any suggestions that their results might possibly mean that the game here is not in the state of rude health claimed for it.

In the long run, however, there is nothing to prevent the Bulls being wiser for the experience. Their coach, Matthew Elliott, has a tendency to blame himself, rather than the team, when things go wrong. "I'm disappointed with the results - and possibly with my coaching - but I'm not disappointed with my players," he said.

But the last three weeks have given players who had forgotten what it was like to lose a domestic league game both a sharp shock and a new standard to aim for. One of today's opponents, the Leeds prop Barrie McDermott, put it well: "Each individual knows now that he can give a lot more than he has been giving.

"I expect to see a big difference over the next few weeks. It's always humbling to get 40 points put past you, but it's a foolish man who doesn't learn from his mistakes."

Super League is fortunate to have a game as good as this with which to re-launch itself. Although Elliott will not admit as much, victory will virtually guarantee Bradford the title, whilst Leeds know that two wins over the Bulls - they play them again immediately after the next tranche of World Club Championship matches - will close their seven-point lead to manageable proportions.

Leeds also have the memory of two Challenge Cup semi-final defeats by Bradford to goad them on. They undoubtedly owe their neighbours one, but they will not know until 9.30pm - the kick-off having been put back to get the cricketers out and the rugby players into Headingley - whether they have caught the Bulls at a time when their self-belief is in question.

Leeds, because of the way their fixtures in Australia fell, have had the benefit of getting home a week before the other returning British clubs. Fatigue is more likely to be a factor for the likes of Oldham, who face St Helens without the injured Matt Munro and the suspended Paul Davidson, whose eventful trip down under included a three- match suspension for biting and a court appearance for fighting with sailors in Adelaide.

Wigan will be without Martin Hall, who broke his arm somewhere along the way, at home to Sheffield, whilst London rest Peter Gill against Castleford.

The most intriguing question of all, however, is how Halifax will look after their shellackings in Australia. They were in reasonable form before their departure, but a record of 204 points conceded in three games on their travels means that they will be watched closely for signs of permanent damage against Paris St Germain this afternoon.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'