THE MANTRA for this new Super League season has been ‘new beginnings’ and, watching the opening round of games, it genuinely does feel like there has been a freshness to plenty of it.
I commented last year about how pessimistic people had been about rugby league and a great job has been done in trying to turn that around and focusing on the good things about the game.
Ultimately, the first round has been excellent and with three televised games certainly delivering on entertainment and two matches being outstanding in terms of how competitive they were.
Everyone has been focusing on making it more entertaining in pre-season with the new rule changes and everything else that has been brought it.
The players undoubtedly delivered on the pitch and let’s kick on again in round two.
Thursday night’s opener between St Helens and Wigan, I thought, was the pick and just a brilliant match.
At this time of year, no one is ever in full flow and it’s more about making sure you complete your sets and do all the little things really well.
Both teams did that but it was very fast as well, they played with a real intensity and there was just no let-up in it.
That’s what we want from the rule changes: shot clock, fewer substitutions, getting rid of the free play. That’s what they are all geared towards to get that fast game.
Rugby league has always been quick but these tweaks are aimed at making it faster and it definitely worked with that Saints win over Wigan.
Clearly, it was very disappointing for us, losing as we did in the last few seconds but, again, the game was in the balance and it would have been a dream scenario for any neutrals watching or someone viewing the sport for the first time.Gareth Ellis
Obviously, as part of the Hull FC coaching set-up, I was involved in the Friday night televised game at Hull KR.
Clearly, it was very disappointing for us, losing as we did in the last few seconds but, again, the game was in the balance and it would have been a dream scenario for any neutrals watching or someone viewing the sport for the first time.
It was hard for us to take, especially given the run we’ve been on with no victory for such a time.
They played well enough to get the points and we’ve done that to them in the past. I’m sure it will happen the other way around in the future, too.
Warrington v Leeds on Saturday was the most one-sided of the televised games but Warrington looked exceptionally fast and powerful; they were very impressive.
Rhinos really did struggle to control them particularly around the ruck where Daryl Clark is such a danger.
Leeds do have quite a few new faces and it might take them a while to bed in. There’s a few there – the NRL lads – who won’t have experienced this weather either but I’m sure they’ll improve as the season builds.
Overall, it was a really pleasing start to Super League and I can’t wait for the next round.