Gareth Ellis - Grand Final send-off richly deserved for Super League legends

I really hope – really hope – James Graham is passed fit and is able to play in Friday’s Betfred Super League Grand Final.

A lot of hard work goes into getting to such games and obviously Jamma has certainly played his part for St Helens in getting them there to face Wigan Warriors.

We all know he’s retiring at the end of this season and he’s been an instrumental figure for Saints since coming back from the NRL in July.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I wrote last week about how Sean O’Loughlin has such presence around the changing room and before the game.

Jamma’s exactly the same. With Lockers due to play his last game, too, I just hope the two old heads get to do battle and turn out for the two clubs that they hold so dear to their hearts: Jamma at Saints and Lockers at Wigan.

I hope they get that fitting farewell and both get to run out at another Grand Final. Only one will get the ultimate dream showpiece finish but I hope they both at least get the chance to battle it out one last time.

Obviously, Jamma came off in Friday’s semi-final win over Catalans Dragons and failed his HIA.

It’s difficult; seven days is the minimum in which he can return so if the Grand Final had been a day earlier he would have automatically missed it.

St Helens star James Graham: Hopes to get all-clear. Picture: SWPix

He will now be hoping he passes all the required tests he needs to in this big week ahead.

Obviously, there’s no Grand Final appearance for us at Hull.

On reflection, Wigan were the better team on Thursday night and deserved the win against us.

Given they finished top and we came in sixth, it was a decent performance from us given how consistent Wigan have been.

Overall, I think they have been the most consistent team and have peaked at the right time, too. There’s no complaints from us.

I thought Wigan played really well. The defence – just like when they beat St Helens recently – was relentless with its line speed; it really suffocated us and just gave us no opportunities.

When we did get a chance, we were camped in our own half. There’s not much you can do when you’re asking your mercurial players like Jake Connor to come up with something from so deep.

What we did need, considering the difference in performance between the sides, was a few decisions to go our way but those 50/50s seemed to go in the other direction. That was our only hope; to get some of those 50/50s to swing the momentum back to us.

Yet, there can be no arguments. We’ve gone from top-five to top-four to top-six and all along I’ve always said the cream will rise to the top.

Through all that uncertainty and juggling around with the format, I think the best two have done that; Wigan and Saints finished first and second in the league and are going to be competing in the Grand Final.

For all the chaos of this year we do have the two best teams in the biggest game of the Super League season and with the way they both played a few weeks ago when Wigan won 18-6, it is a mouth-watering prospect.

Saints will be reeling a bit from how Wigan did do such a good job on them that night and they are playing really good finals football.

But we saw a reaction Friday in how they went about their business, putting 48 points on Catalans – a star-studded side in their own right – in a semi-final and not conceding a try either, just like Wigan didn’t against us.

Saints will be better for the loss – if that’s the right thing to say – and Wigan are obviously in top form after putting in two really, really dominant performances.

Before then, the Steve Prescott Man of Steel will be announced tonight.

I always find it really difficult as I always get drawn to the grafters.

So that’s people like Liam Farrell, who is short-listed, or even Alex Walmsley who has had big impacts on games and been the difference on a few occasions this season.

But I think if you’re just talking about matchwinners and an all-out excitement machine you’re looking at Bevan French aren’t you?

The way he’s played and lit up the competition has been brilliant.

It has been the case for a few full-backs who have come from the NRL.

Ben Barba won Man of Steel in 2018 and Lachalan Coote’s obviously going great with Saints.

French is continuing that trend and he’d be a worthy winner all be it not one of my beloved forwards.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.