TRAVELS: IX

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD
AFTER some of the scores on Easter Monday, and as a dumb foreigner, I am intrigued to find out how attached Super League fans are to the idea of two complete rounds over Easter.
The wins by Widnes and Salford late last week should have helped attract sponsors, season ticket holders and new fans. Instead, they didn’t have one working day before losing again – in the Vikings’ case, very heavily – to capitalise on these results.
Hull KR won the derby – the headlines screamed ‘character and resilience’ – and then had 84 put past them by Wigan! To me, it completely ruins the magic of the derby and devalues the whole League. The Monday game was worth the same number of competition points as Friday, after all.
But what do I know?
I can understand the commercial benefits of cramming in two rounds during the Easter break, as much as I can understand the way some clubs still cling to Boxing Day fixtures even though it’s the middle of the off-season.
But surely the commercial damage done in the three examples above should be taken into consideration. Sky could still show exactly the same number of games over the Easter break if there was just one round – and more teams would get a go on TV.
And there would be the added advantage of having games on five days straight, with no break. Personally, I’ve always thought Red Hall should have more control over when games are played, outside of those shown by Sky…
But I don’t want to be accused of being “patronising” so tell me if you love the Easter double-up (I know most players don’t) or if the pizzlings we saw on Monday should sound a death-knell for the concept.
(fyi, in the NRL it’s a normal round save for a Friday afternoon game in Homebush, where the Royal Easter Show is held. They got 50,000 for Canterbury-South Sydney this year)
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I’VE been meaning to write something about Gareth Widdop in this column.
I go to the majority of Melbourne Storm games and I humbly submit that he should already have been posted his England no.6 shirt by Steve MacNamara.
Widdop plays in a club team with arguably the three best players in the world – Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – and loses nothing in comparison.
Defenders seem to hang off Widdop, giving him the time in attack that only the very special players have. His under-utilisation by England so far is completely mystifying to me.
Now, I know the Golden Boot holder Kevin Sinfield is also a stand-off contender. Sinfield says he doesn’t have the size to play the same sort of loose forward’s game as a Paul Gallen.
But to me, you pick Sam Tomkins, Gareth Widdop and Ryan Hall and then build a team around them.
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Thanks for the comments after the last column.

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