Yates' view: London must up their game both on and off the pitch
A group of St Helens players, past and present, will want to quickly forget the last few days when their season collapsed like a detonated factory chimney.
Tears flooded as Saints suffered a shock 18-13 defeat against underdogs Warrington Wolves in the Super League semi-final play-off at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday - and it was a similar story three days later when four players, who had once worn the famous Red Vee jersey, were in the Toronto Wolfpack side which surprisingly lost the £1m Game 4-2 to London Broncos in their own back yard.
Centre Gary Wheeler, who made more than 60 first team appearance for his home-town club in an injury jinked career between 2008-2014, couldn’t unlock the Broncos’ door despite his subtle handling skills.
Neither could second rower Andrew Dixon - a Saint between 2008-2012 - and loose forward Jake Emmitt, whose early career was spent playing at the old Knowsley Road ground, find a way to pierce a stubborn and resolute London defence.
The Canadian club’s only points came from full back Gareth O’Brien who spent a loan spell at the Totally Wicked Stadium in 2013.
London now return to the top table of Rugby League but some people are already asking: Would it have been better if Toronto had clinched the final spot?
If financial backing and an ability to attract big crowds, reflected in the attendance of more than 9,000 at Sunday’s match, is anything to go by the answer is yes.
But the Broncos are there on merit - and hopefully good promotion work behind the scenes will help boost crowds next year which, with all due respects to the club, leave a lot to be desired at this moment in time considering the population of the capital city.
Some others argued pre-match that it would be a boost for the sport whoever finished up winning the £1m Game.
It’s a fair point but hopefully London will have learned the harsh realities of losing their Super League status in 2014. and remedy the situation.
On the evidence of their win over Toronto, they will certainly need to sign one of two more quality players if their stay is not a short one.
As far as Canadian club is concerned they are a work in progress and while the failure to join the ‘big boys’ will hurt, don’t bet against them in 2019.