What we learned from Super League at the weekend
1 Jake Connor’s temperament continues to let him down.
There can be no doubting that Jake Connor is one of the most talented players in Super League.
But he also has one of the most reckless temperaments, which, unless it improves, will continue to exclude him from England selection.
In last Thursday’s game against Wigan, Connor was sinbinned for a high tackle on his fullback rival Zak Hardaker on 32 minutes when the scores were level at 6-6. While he was off the field Liam Farrell touched down for Wigan and Connor was subsequently banned for one match for his indiscretion.
But that wasn’t the end of Connor’s foolishness. With just under 15 minutes remaining and the scores locked at 14-all, he appeared to slap Jackson Hastings as the Wigan halfback was trying to play the ball. Hastings looked amazed and the referee James Child wasn’t impressed, awarding Wigan a penalty that Hardaker kicked for a two-point victory.
The thought of Connor doing that in a World Cup Final against Australia would make me have sleepless nights, so I can hardly begin to imagine England coach Shaun Wane’s reaction.
2 Don’t count Leigh out yet.
The Centurions may be at the bottom of Super League with five defeats from five games. But they are level with Wakefield Trinity and only one win behind Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils.
Against the Champions St Helens last Friday they were level 6-6 at half-time and they competed to the end.
Their recent signing Anthony Gelling scored a thrilling interception try and accumulated 211 running metres during the game.
The Centurions have done remarkable well to build a squad that can compete as well as they have done so far, particularly against the top clubs like Wigan and St Helens.
When they start to play the teams around them in the league table they will be capable of springing some important upsets.
3 Tom Davies must be an England contender.
Catalans Dragons’ former Wigan winger Tom Davies must surely be playing himself into Shaun Wane’s England squad plans.
Davies scored a hat-trick of tries against Wakefield Trinity and each of them took plenty of scoring, as he squeezed in at the corner each time.
Davies was helped by some great back play by the Dragons, who seemed to have fully recovered from their defeat by Warrington Wolves a week earlier.
But with Wane clearly stating a preference for Sam Tomkins at fullback for England, there can be little doubt that Tomkins’ understanding with Davies could pay big dividends for England.
4. Oliver Holmes is another England possible.
Castleford Tigers registered an expected victory over Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium with Paul McShane setting an outstanding example and picking up the three Albert Goldthorpe Medal points.
But the player who got two points was Oliver Holmes, whose consistency so far this season has been outstanding.
Holmes made 54 tackles for the Tigers and must surely be another outside contender for an England spot in the World Cup.
If he continues to perform at that level he will be difficult for Shaun Wane to ignore.
5. Greg inglis looks like he still has much of his old talent.
Greg Inglis finally made his much awaited debut for Warrington Wolves on Saturday in their defeat of Hull Kingston Rovers.
Although he started tentatively, admitting to the fact that he found it difficult to settling into a game after more than two years out, Inglis grew more confident as the game unfolded, showing some neat touches and reminding us of his strength and skill when he span away from three tacklers to score his 51st minute try.
And he looked even more comfortable when he went to fullback after Matty Ashton’s departure with injury a few minutes later.
The early signs suggest that Warrington will reap plenty of benefits from their investment in one of the icons of the game.
6. The Giants needed a victory more than anything.
In their first four games of the season, which all resulted in defeats, Giants coach Ian Watson was keen to talk about processes rather than results.
But in the end it’s results that count, and the relief on the faces of the Giants players when Lee Gaskell dropped the winning goal right on the hooter was palpable.
A fifth straight defeat would have shaken their confidence, but now at last Watson can begin to ploy Huddersfield’s rise up the table, confident that he has a squad that can give Super League a shake.
That is the only process that really counts.
Martyn Sadler is the Managing Editor of League Express, available every Monday in all good newsagents and digitally every Sunday evening.