Halfback shortage shouldn’t happen, says Schoey

GARRY SCHOFIELD wonders why Leeds Rhinos had to play two forwards in the halfback roles in their Challenge Cup game on Saturday.

The St Helens-Leeds Challenge Cup tie threw up a number of concerns.

It’s a sorry state of affairs when a club like Leeds can’t field proper halfbacks, and instead have to shove a couple of forwards in there.

I know Richard Agar has a lot of injuries to contend with, but what has happened to our so-called ‘pathways’ when there aren’t youngsters chomping at the bit for a chance to play a first-team match?

This is what happens when you don’t have a decent, competitive Colts and ‘A’ team system throughout the game.

And, like many Leeds supporters, I’m wondering what’s happened to Kyle Eastmond (pictured)? It seemed like the perfect opportunity for him to make his debut.

Credit to the Leeds lads who were out in the pitch, because they had a go.

But as for Saints, I’d be very surprised if Kristian Woolf didn’t take his players to task over their attitude.

Saints are a great side, but they sometimes appear to fall into the trap of thinking they can just turn the tap on and off, and Rugby League doesn’t work like that.

They came across as being arrogant, and almost paid the price.

I can’t see Woolf standing for a repeat, and I think Wakefield might pay the price when they meet in Super League on Friday, when I’m tipping Saints to win by 32.

If hospitality packages were allowed, I’d pay the price of one to witness the meeting of Gary Hetherington and Ian Lenagan before Thursday’s Leeds-Wigan match.

I think Lenagan, who recently had a dig at his Headingley counterpart, will be smiling after the match, and I’m going Wigan by 14.

Castleford are set to be too strong for Leigh on Friday (Tigers by 16) while I reckon Hull KR, with home advantage, will beat Huddersfield by eight.

On Saturday, I’ll say Catalans by 14 against Salford, and in an intriguing clash on Sunday, Hull by 13 against Warrington.

My England team

There was certainly no shortage of names in Shaun Wane’s England training squad, which hopefully is a sign of the strength in depth we will have going into this year’s World Cup.

The most obvious omissions were Jake Connor, Jake Trueman and Liam Watts, but as Shaun explained, there is time for them to play their way into his plans.

If I were pushed to pick a side from the 35 on the list, it would be Sam Tomkins at fullback, with Tommy Makinson and the exciting Tom Johnstone on the wings.

My centres would be Herbie Farnworth, a player I really like because of his quality, creativity and pace, and Mark Percival.

My halves would have to be Jonny Lomax and George Williams, with a frontrow of Alex Walmsley, Josh Hodgson and Luke Thompson, who, after his suspension, played, and scored, for Canterbury in the NRL on Saturday, even if they did get a mauling at the hands of Melbourne.

Elliot Whitehead and John Bateman would form the second row, with Morgan Knowles at loose-forward.

My substitutes would be props Tom Burgess and Ryan Sutton, hooker Daryl Clark and back Zak Hardaker, who is so useful because of his versatility.

It’s a decent-looking side, although glancing at the likely array of backs the Aussies are going to come to the tournament with, it’s going to take a monumental effort to stop them.

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