Wello’s World: Merging clubs is the way forward

Saints Player  Michael Shenton
Saints Player Michael Shenton
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IT has been quite a hectic past seven days in the world of Rugby League, with the RFL deciding which teams will be awarded Super League licences for the next three seasons.

I, like many others within the game presumed that Wakefield, given their recent financial issues, would be the team to make way for the returning Widnes, and I must admit that it came as a huge surprise to learn that Crusaders had withdrawn their licence application at the 11th hour.

As a fellow professional I really felt for the Crusaders players who by all accounts were completely unaware of what was occurring, and have now been left searching for a new club for 2012.

They have players both past and present who claim they are owed significant amounts of money, and although I am not entirely aware of all the details, I would hope that something could be done to ensure that players contracts are honoured.

I am a firm believer that we should always look to expand our game beyond its familiar boundaries, but at the same time we have to be careful that we don’t neglect teams who have been part of the Rugby League heartland for many years.

In 1996, at the start of Super League and the switch to summer rugby, it was proposed that some teams should merge and at the time it was met with fierce resistance and I agree that some of the suggested mergers didn’t make sense, but I think it’s time, that the idea was revisited.

Obviously it’s difficult for supporters of teams to comprehend, but if you take the Australian NRL as an example, there are three teams who have won the Grand Final in the past six seasons.

They are the Manly Sea Eagles (2008) West Tigers (2005) and St George Illawara Dragons (2010), all of whom were subject to mergers when the competition changed to 14 teams in 1999.

Through mergers the teams that have struggled to remain competitive standing alone should be given the opportunity to be part of a new bright future in the game.

There are those rugby purists who would stand against such ventures and point out that clubs have a history, but that’s exactly my argument “it’s history”, let’s look to the future and base our decisions on what is best for the future of our sport before it’s too late.

n WE were very pleased to pick up a good win at Castleford at the weekend.

It was a great start to the game going 18-0 up in the first 15 minutes, but unfortunately we let them back into the game.

We were a lot more professional in the second-half and stuck to the task much better. It was important to win, to keep ourselves in the top three of Super League, but also to take some confidence and momentum into the semi-final against Wigan.

We are obviously looking forward to what will be a great occasion on Saturday at the Halliwell Jones, and are already hard at work in training preparing for what we recognise will be an extremely tough contest.