Last week, Garry Schofield caused quite a stir in his League Express column ‘Pulling No Punches’ as he blasted Huddersfield’s halfback duo of Jamie Ellis and Danny Brough, labelling them as the worst halfback partnership in Super League.
Schofield, never one to shy away from expressing his opinion, made his remarks about the Giants duo while he was ranking every halfback pairing in Super League.
As a special treat from us to you, below is Garry’s piece from last week.
You can read Garry’s column in League Express every single week, with the Rugby League Hall of Famer discussing how Wayne Bennett’s team can avoid a similar fate to the England’s football team.
12. Jamie Ellis & Danny Brough (Huddersfield)
Ellis does nothing for mine and it’s all left to Brough, who’s had a poor season. Ellis is too slow, he can’t organise and he has no vision. The pair of them are like crabs, going across the field. We know what Broughy can do but he’s had an unhappy year and he’s coming to the end of his career. Whatever the reasons for his poor season, it’s no surprise to see where the Giants are.
11. Luke Walsh & Jon Wilkin (St Helens)
These two just don’t work together. Walsh is a quality organising halfback when he wants to be but there are doubts over how he handles the pressure. Wilkin is a second-rower, so kudos to him for being prepared to fill in so often, but I have to compare him to other halves because that’s where he’s playing and he’s just not good enough. He tries to take over from Walsh as the main man and that seems to affect the Australian. Their shape is questionable, and for some reason Saints just can’t get things right in the halves year in, year out.
10. Albert Kelly & Maurice Blair (Hull KR)
I first wrote this column a week ago and had Hull KR’s pairing of Kelly and Terry Campese top! But now Terry is out for the season, there’s no point in including him. Kelly is a good support player, but he’s no creator and he has no vision. Blair offers little. His kicking game is okay, but, as far as getting people around the park, these two aren’t good enough.
9. Michael Dobson & Robert Lui (Salford)
These two aren’t well matched. Dobson used to do very well in the Albert Goldthorpe rankings, but coaches have always struggled to find the right partner for him because he’s too dominant, and now he’s well past his sell-by date. Lui tries to be an organiser, but that’s not really him. He’s come up with some great individual stuff this year but the partnership hasn’t offered much else. Gareth O’Brien should be moved into the halves in place of Dobson.
8. Liam Finn & Jacob Miller (Wakefield)
This combination lacks pace, but there’s a good player in Jacob Miller, which we’re finally seeing this season. He plays what he sees, which I like, and he’s a good organiser and kicker. Finn has the pace of a slug but he does take the pressure off Miller with a really varied kicking game. Both know their responsibilities of making Wakefield tick and I’ve been impressed with them this year. Chris Chester has got this partnership working very well.
7. Jordan Lilley & Danny McGuire (Leeds)
I’ve raved about these two as individuals plenty of times in the past, but as a partnership there are questions. I’d like Lilley to take on the role of chief organiser because he is easily capable of it. Danny is still a top support player – the best of the stand-offs in Super League – but he’s been asked to do more of the organising role that he’s used to. Leeds need to be brave and put more faith in Lilley and he will reward them.
6. Matty Smith & George Williams (Wigan)
Smith has a kicking game that’s second to none, but this partnership lacks pace and neither can go in for a long-range try. This season we’ve seen Wigan struggling for creativity and that’s because they’re too reliant on other players for that in Sean O’Loughlin and Michael McIlorum. Other top halfback pairings don’t seem to be as reliant on other players from their team. Williams can be a bit indecisive, although his talent isn’t in doubt. But Wigan are still in with a chance of the treble so they must be doing something right!
5. Luke Gale & Ben Roberts (Castleford)
Gale is sheer class. He’s the main organiser and is so important to the Tigers. But at times they get in each other’s way, both wanting to take on the main role. They are both quality players though. Roberts is an individual who looks for the champion play a bit too often. I do rate him, but the two of them sometimes lose their shape.
4. Mark Sneyd & Carlos Tuimavave (Hull FC)
Hull were already having a great season with Leon Pryce in the side, but when Tuimavave came on at Newcastle he gave them a real boost. Sneyd has a great kicking game, but lacks a bit of creativity, although he’s rammed most of my criticisms down my throat. I’d like to see Tuimavave take on more of the creativity and, if he does so, they’ll then have a more balanced partnership. Neither are great support players, but these two are capable of leading Hull to silverware.
3. Joe Mellor & Kevin Brown (Widnes)
These two were the reason for the great start that Widnes made to the season. When pressure needs to be taken off Brown, Mellor does that very well. Mellor can detect when and where the defence is weak and he is a great support player. He is easily capable of going 70 or 80 metres and is unlucky not to be in the England squad. Brown pulls the strings and does that very well, but he also has a bit of pace himself and he can also score some great tries. We saw how important Brown was to the team when he was injured.
2. Richie Myler & Todd Carney (Catalans)
Of the scrum-halves in Super League, Myler is the best support player along with Widnes’ Joe Mellor. Carney organises everything and is a very gifted natural stand-off – a rare breed these days. These two complement each other superbly. Myler takes a lot of pressure away from Carney with his kicking game and he’s performed better than I thought he would do after moving from Warrington. Carney, as we all know, has always been class. We’re lucky to have him in the competition.
1. Chris Sandow & Kurt Gidley (Warrington)
The best halfback pairing in Super League! They’ve been at the top of their game all year. Having a good balance as a halfback pairing is vital and these two have it right, with Gidley the creator and organiser, and Sandow the support player and the guy with the individual brilliance. Gidley is a great leader and Sandow is the maverick and so the partnership works well. Another big plus is that Sandow doesn’t try to take over the main role, which can often be a problem for a team.