STEVE Menzies has been the talk of our changing rooms at Hunslet Hawks all week.
He is such a rugby league legend, done so much in the sport and is still going amazingly well at the age of 39.
It is a shame, then, that it looks like he won’t be putting his boots on tomorrow to play against us here in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round.
I know our lads would have loved to have gone up against one of the world’s greats.
Having said all that, once it’s kicked off, they might be quite pleased he’s not out there after all.
For all Menzies and a few others aren’t in, there’s certainly some big names in the Catalan team we’re facing.
I was looking through it yesterday and there’s real quality with people like Thomas Bosc, who has been outstanding for them this year, as well as Damien Blanch, who has been one of Super League’s most consistent wingers in recent years.
Then there’s Ian Henderson, too, a real slippery hooker who was called up by England last year, while the young French players they will bring in will be of a high standard, too, if they’ve been involved with a Super League club as good as Catalan Dragons. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about which way Super League should go and, among other things, maybe two divisions of 10 bringing back promotion and relegation.
Whatever happens, I think Catalan should be the template for all clubs that want to be a success in the elite.
I have seen it from both sides now as, having been involved in the farce that was Crusaders, I have seen how including new clubs can be done badly.
But, from the outside looking in, Catalan seem a great model for anyone wanting a franchise. They have everything in order, haven’t tried to run before they can walk and have gradually proved themselves as a regular top four or five Super League team. They certainly seem to have got it right and can be a lesson to others.
As for whether the Super League should be split into two, I definitely think there’s a lot of clubs here in the Championship that would more than compete if it was a level playing field.
Considering Super League clubs get £1.5m through their broadcast deal and we get £100,000, if there was a more even split of the funding I strongly believe it would make the game overall a lot stronger.
Featherstone Rovers already look all but a Super League club on and off the field and that’s without the finances you get in the top division. Imagine what they could do with it?
Halifax, too, seem to have put their house in order while Sheffield Eagles are well-run, the Grand Final winners and have been to the last two.
As for us, we’re going to have a strong side tomorrow against Catalan. Scott Watson’s ready to make his seasonal debut for us. He’s been out since breaking a thumb in a friendly against Featherstone on New Year’s Day, but has trained really well and will get an opportunity this weekend.
We know how hard it is going to be, but it will be an experience for our players and we’re hoping plenty of people will come down to see it.
We’ve done a great deal where, basically, it’s just a tenner to get in for adults so there’s a bit of an incentive there for people who maybe haven’t seen a Super League side down at Hunslet before to come along.
We know the Championship is our bread and butter, but we’re looking to make the most of our Challenge Cup experiences this weekend.
Interview by Dave Craven