Yates' view: Time to give Super League's table toppers a better deal
Time is a great healer and hopefully Saints will now be well on the way to erasing the mental scars of their semi-final play-off defeat against Warrington Wolves earlier this month.
Coming hard on the heels of their Ladbrokes Challenge semi-final setback against the Catalans Dragons, it won’t be an easy task.
They may have picked up what I can only describe as the consolation prize - the League Leaders’ Shield - and while finishing top of the table after 30 rounds of the competition cannot be sniffed at, it doesn’t ultimately satisfy the players’ dreams … victory in an Old Trafford Grand Final.
I don’t profess to have the answer to how the powers-that-be can give greater status to the League Leaders’ Shield winners - and I don’t think they know, either.
The structure for next season has already been approved, in which Super League will revert back to a ‘one-up, one-down’ system, and is expected to include a 29-strong fixture list with each team to play a normal home and away fixture list, six loop fixtures and Magic Weekend.
It will also have a five-team play-off system like the early days of Super League, putting more emphasis on finishing higher up in the table for the best chance of making it through to the Grand Final.
But surely they could have gone one step further and given the winners of the League Leaders’ Shield an automatic passage to the Grand Final and leave the four clubs behind them to fight it out for the second spot at Old Trafford.
It doesn’t guarantee the table-toppers will lift the coveted title but let’s face it the most consistent club in nine months of blood, sweat and tears and no shortage of skill should be given a much greater chance of claiming the Holy Grail of the sport than at this moment in time.