Four main talking points from the opening play-off round

Mike Cooper was heavily missed on Thursday

Warrington-born Cooper is one of the most well-known players that has risen through the Warrington ranks, starting in their Under-11s side, and has just completed his twelfth season with the club across two separate stints.

Their club, like many, have faced tough periods. September 2nd was a key turning point in their season; six Warrington players, mainly forwards, were forced to self-isolate for two weeks, but the services of senior members Cooper and Ben Currie remained available. The pair received negative tests and thus, became leaders within the playing group.

Cooper, renown for his inventive and unique offloads in a tackle and regular powerful runs, was included in Steve Price’s 21-man squad on Tuesday but did not participate on gameday. It showed as Warrington lacked any real go-forward throughout the contest, instead slotting up kicks to their centres and wingers.

Steve Price began coaching Warrington in 2018 and reached his first three finals, including a Challenge Cup triumph last year, but his side has now been eliminated in the opening week of the play-offs for the second consecutive year.

Catalans Dragons are up for Super League silverware

We all remember 2018’s Challenge Cup Final where Catalans were labelled ‘underdogs’ but came out victorious with an immense performance against aforementioned Warrington. It was a massive story, not only for Catalans but for the entire topic of Rugby League in France, and one that will be remembered forever.

The Dragons made the play-offs for the first time in six years and, despite their lack of experience, dominated with their talented forward pack.

The opening quarter from Catalans was immaculate with three converted scores, all of which assisted by Sam Tomkins, and will scare their next opponents, St Helens.

You honestly won’t want to miss their clash on Friday live on Sky Sports. It’ll be a colossal clash between two mammoth sides.

Hull are eighty minutes away from a trip to the Super League Grand Final… at home?

Yep, you read that correct.

When Hull’s KCOM Stadium was announced as the venue for this year’s Grand Final in less than two weeks, the play-offs were scheduled to follow the standard top-four procedure.

Nevertheless, Super League opted to cut the season short and subsequently extended the play-offs to a top-six format, which now includes Hull FC and Leeds.

Hull are now on the cusp of their first Super League showpiece appearance since 2006 where they were handed a hefty defeat by St Helens, a team they may face in the final should both sides progress.

Leeds Rhinos’ chances of the double are over

If you look back at their fixture list, Leeds have fulfilled eight games, including a Cup Final, within 36 days, equating to one game every four-and-a-half days.

Incorporating time for rest, recovery and training in mid-November makes the month a fairly hectic one to contend with.

Then you have the panic of Richard Agar and assistant coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who both had to self-isolate according to government guidelines.

Leeds now have the off-season to re-group and are already looking ahead to future with Tom Briscoe and Mikolaj Oledzki signed up until 2022 and 2024 respectively.

The 2021 Super League season will feature 12 teams, one of which to be voted in from the Championship in mid-December, with 27 rounds set to be played including the return of Dacia Magic Weekend.