Lee Radford watched his Hull FC side beat champions Wigan Warriors 39-26 in their third game in eight days - and then insisted the Rugby Football League must admit it has got it wrong with scheduling that has made a mockery of their player welfare claims.
The Airlie Birds chief was furious that clubs have had to endure a ‘second Easter’ by playing last Friday and Bank Holiday Monday before facing another fixture this weekend.
Radford insisted there was little thought for the players’ well-being after his side picked up a first win in four games and maintained the governing body should concede it has got things wrong.
Its ill-conceived idea was initially implemented to create space in the calendar for an England training camp that never materialised.
“This is the most pleasing win of the season by a country mile because of the circumstances for both teams,” he said, joining the growing number of coaches - such as Castleford Tigers’ Daryl Powell and Warrington’s Tony Smith - to berate the RFL on this matter.
“It’s been an unbelievably difficult period that didn’t need to happen.
“The schedule was made for an England camp that never came about.
“I understand the RFL continue to defend the situation but at the end of the day if you are not going to admit to mistakes you are never going to right the wrongs.
“I read an article today that said Super League coaches should stop whingeing about their players (having to play twice in four days).
“I go to meetings and listen for an hour about player welfare and how depressed they are and how we need to keep them happy.
“There was no thought for player welfare there in that game.
“That was two reserve teams running on empty but we’ll be better for it.
“But some acknowledgement has to be made that mistakes have been made.”
The article Radford referred to was by ex-England captain Jamie Peacock, his former team-mate at Bradford Bulls.
Asked, knowing the legendary former player as he does, if he was surprised by Peacock’s comments, he replied: “Very….(pause). But look at the payroll he’s on.”
Peacock, of course, is now England team manager, working with head coach Wayne Bennett, as well as being Hull KR head of rugby.
He also referenced another ex-Great Britain player Phil Clarke, the Sky Sports pundit who has suggested pain-killing injections should be banned from the sport.
Radford continued: “I read Phil Clarke’s piece earlier in the week about stopping players playing with jabs.
“Well today’s game would have been cancelled if my players didn’t get jabbed up.
“If our five didn’t get jabbed up we wouldn’t have been able to play today and we would have been punished for it.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, player welfare doesn’t seem to be paramount at this moment in time.”
On the pitch, it was a welcome victory for Radford’s side who, like Wigan, were missing plenty of players to injury and suspension.
They raced into a 24-0 lead inside the opening half-hour to end a three-game losing run and climb back up into Super League’s top-four.
Furthermore, it ended a bizarre run of eight successive home defeats against champions Wigan, their last victory here dating back to 2009.
Granted, the return of Jordan Thompson and Fetuli Talanoa neither of whom had played last Friday or Bank Holiday Monday - the latter has been absent since Easter - brought some much needed fresh legs to the hosts.
But they were well supported, in particular, by Jamie Shaul, the effervescent full-back who responded to being dropped from the England elite performance squad this week, with an all-action performance.
Young prop Masi Matongo came off the bench with a towering display, too, Chirs Green was forceful, Jake Connor flourished at half-back before departing with a head injury and veterans Danny Washbrook and Mark Minichiello were excellent in the back-row.
It actually ended six tries apiece but Wigan - who missed five conversions and have now gone six league games without a win - did not score three of those until the final dozen minutes when they already trailed 38-14.
Hull, with Danny Houghton to the fore, were good value early on and, in spite of fears this would be a drab, jaded affair, there was plenty of entertaining rugby played.
Australian winger Steve Michaels scored the first of his two tries inside just three minutes after great build-up play by Albert Kelly and hooker Houghton.
Minichiello, the 35-year-old who agreed a new deal this week, crossed soon after when Wigan failed to deal with Connor’s kick, Hull gaining a penalty in front of the posts as Wigan full-back Lewis Tierney led with his boot when trying to stop the Australian from scoring.
Houghton’s fine long pass sent Michaels in for his second as the hosts went 16-0 up inside the opening 21 minutes.
Connor added a penalty before Washbrook cut a lovely angle to rip through beleaguered Wigan once more and set up Houghton, the Man of Steel also omitted by Bennett this week.
Connor made it 24-0 and Liam Farrell, the England second-row making his 200th Wigan appearance, was yellow carded for dissent complaining about the veracity of the score.
Wigan did finally respond with Tom Davies scored the first of his brace in the 36th minute but their self-inflicted damage continued when Willie Isa messed around needlessly with Minichiello after a tackle to concede another penalty that Connor tagged on for a 26-4 interval lead.
Hull were reminded of Wigan’s strike quality when Liam Marshall showed remarkable acceleration to get on the outside of Shaul in the 44th minute.
At that point, early in the second period, Radford’s side came up with some frenzied plays at times when all they needed was composure.
Tierney scored after some fine offloading from Wigan but, when Nick Rawsthorne was recklessly taken out in the air, Hull moved upfield to give Shaul the opportunity to show what he could do.
The talented 24-year-old, who demonstrated some great positional play in defence, produced a lovely chip and chase to score a brilliant solo try just before the hour.
Then, when Kelly picked off George Williams’ loose kick to race 90m for his 15th try of the season soon after it was game over.
Joe Burgess, Marshall and Tom Davies all struck for Wigan in the latter stages as Hull eventually tired but Kelly’s drop goal in the middle of all that meant there was never any fear of a spectacular collapse from the hosts who venture to second-placed Salford Red Devils next Friday.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Talanoa, Tuimavave, Rawsthorne; Kelly, Connor; Green, Houghton, Thompson, Washbrook, Minichiello, Manu. Substitutes: Turgut, Downs, Fash, Matongo.
Wigan Warriors: Tierney; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Willians, Leuluai; Nuuasala, McIlorum, Sutton, Wells, Farrell, Isa. Substitutes: J Tomkins, Powell, Tautai, Field.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington)