Super League coaches have united in opposition to the upcoming double-header of fixtures, voicing their concern for players and for the quality of the competition.
St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf said: “We haven’t got away from these really congested periods. We had one at Easter, we’re having one again now.
“There’s a number of things we can look at in terms of how we look after players.
“I’ve said before about the number of games and the way the schedule is put together, (we need to) be a bit smarter overall rather than just adding on and on what everyone wants every year. There needs to be give and take.”
While the Easter period comes early in the year, the extra Bank Holiday round comes just a week before the end of the regular season.
Most clubs are already fielding teams far below strength and there are concerns that the quality of the Super League play-offs will be severely weakened.
“I think we’d be naive to not think that,” said Castleford Tigers coach Lee Radford.
“Normally it’s the game after the Easter period that is a real slugfest with the lack of availability of players. Having this the week before the play-offs is going to be really interesting.”
Wakefield Trinity coach Willie Poching also fears for the standard across the competition, and for England further ahead.
“A lot of clubs are struggling to put 21-man squads out,” he said.
“A lot of teams are nowhere near their best 13 or 17 that they would ideally like to put out. That’s what we’ve got to be aiming for to sell our product.
“The big concern for me is England too, heading into the World Cup, and teams going into the play-offs.
“The play-offs are a big part of any competition’s season, when you get to sell it to a national audience.
“Players should be peaking, you should be selling out crowds, showing the TV audiences the quality our game has.”
The coaches all understand clubs’ financial desire for these fixtures but hope they can convince IMG to consider the game’s schedule going forward.
“We got together as a coaching group and these issues were spoken about,” revealed Radford.
“(Warrington Wolves coach) Daryl Powell was leading in it and he’s going to go back to (IMG) with the feedback that we gave.”
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