Time for some domestic self-help
Dave Hadfield says rugby league's learning process must start at home
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 29 June 1997
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.
Latest in Sport
Manny Pacquiao secures $12.5m mansion by giving seller four tickets to 2 May fight with Floyd Mayweather
Dan Hardy column: Is the hype around UFC sensation Conor McGregor justified?
Malaysia Grand Prix 2015: Nico Rosberg refuses to back down on blocking claims after Lewis Hamilton's lightning start to season
WWE WrestleMania 31: What time does it start? Full match card and preview ahead of event
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...