It’s strange; we got rid of the Qualifiers and Million Pound Game as it put too many Super League clubs in jeopardy and we didn’t want all that uncertainty over relegation.
There would be four each year under threat. Yet we’ve gone back to a one-up, one-down format and now there’s five teams that still all have the possibility of the drop even with just four rounds remaining.
We (Hull FC) beat Wakefield Trinity yesterday so they are in it, just two points off London Broncos at the bottom.
Huddersfield Giants lost at the weekend as well so they’re really drawn in now with them, Hull KR and Wakefield all just two points adrift of that dreaded last place, Leeds looking better now they are four clear.
It’s raised things even more. But, I imagine, if you do want relegation you may as well make it entertaining and this is doing that by involving so many.
I just think with Wakefield losing so many games – 10 from 11 now – and Huddersfield losing so many on the spin, too, you just need to do something to break that cycle.Gareth Ellis
There’s pressure games and you play with a lot of anxiety when you’re down there at the bottom.
The pressure at the top is probably different as you are just trying to win something. The consequences of that are just not winning a Grand Final or getting to a Grand Final or a Challenge Cup final whereas the threat of relegation leads to an anxiety of playing where it’s your livelihood. It’s your job. It’s just different. I do feel for those clubs that are going through it.
But this is where you need your big players to really stand up and come good for the team.
Wakefield are clearly in that mix and I suppose it’s only in recent years that they have not been accustomed to that (relegation fights).
I started my career at Belle Vue and when I was there I remember some of our biggest wins were avoiding relegation on the last day of the season.
I recall back in 2001 under John Harbin when we won at Salford on the final day of the campaign to stay up.
We were 24-14 down at one point but hit back and ended up with 12 men to Salford’s 10. Bobbie Goulding got sent off for fighting on the way to the sin-bin.
All my time at Wakefield up to 2004, when we reached the play-offs, was about surviving.
We entered some seasons with a lot of promise when we were signing some big guns but still ended up in a relegation battle.
As the season panned out, that was our goal and we found a way of doing it.
They’ve had some good seasons since but they find themselves in the thick of it again to stay up now.
It’s a big game on Sunday when they head to Hull KR.
There’s a lot to argue in favour for a lot of those clubs down at the bottom; they all have their reasons for being worthy of being a Super League team.
Obviously, I have those Trinity links while KR are our big rivals at Hull FC.
When I was at Leeds, it was Leeds v Bradford games we looked forward to but since I’ve been at Hull it’s been the derby with Rovers.
Having played in Australia, they just can’t get their head around relegation and still can’t believe it’s something that happens.
But I suppose they don’t have anything below the NRL. It’s Reserve Grade below that so there is no actual fall-out for it.
Still, we have a group of traditionalists here who like the form of relegation.
It is exciting in a way but only when you’re not involved in it.
There’s a lot to be lost from relegation.
But, again, that’s up to the powers-that-be to decide whether what you are losing is worth it when you have the excitement of the threat of those teams going down.
Of those in danger, London have probably achieved more than many ever imagined.
Even if they were to get relegated they can hold their heads high.
I don’t think anyone predicted them to do as well as they have.
I can still see them getting points at home, especially given the way they have played there this year to get them in a position to survive. They’ll look forward to that.
I just think with Wakefield losing so many games – 10 from 11 now – and Huddersfield losing so many on the spin, too, you just need to do something to break that cycle.
Sometimes it means not necessarily playing well but just getting a win from somewhere to break that cycle and start thinking more about going up the ladder than dropping down it.
When it comes to playing in these sorts of games and surviving, they are comparable to winning Grand Finals.
You look forward to a Grand Final but you worry about playing for your future at the other end.
For instance, if that club gets relegated, you do not know whether they will come back.
Look at Bradford Bulls. You don’t know what will happen after relegation.
It is a tough time for everyone and a big relief when you are finally safe.
But on the other side of that, there is always someone else who is suffering.
It’s bitter-sweet. Whatever happens, it is going to be an intriguing few weeks ahead and it is so hard to call what will happen with so many crucial games coming up.
Fortunately, for us, we’re at the other end now and up to joint-second with Warrington Wolves but we have plenty of work to do, too, to get to where we want to be.
It was a tough win at Wakefield yesterday – pictured left – and we didn’t play great. It will be a big game for us as well when Salford Red Devils come to us on Saturday looking to cement their own top-five place.