IT was nice to get back to winning ways against Castleford – the performance was efficient and a big improvement on our efforts the previous week.
There is no doubt that we can, and will, have to play much better in the coming weeks. That’s something that we are more than capable of doing, but we will have to work very hard in training to fine-tune areas of our game that are most in need of improvement.
One such area is our tackle technique. In any game of rugby, it is important that you are strong in the tackle and have control in the ruck area. If you fail to achieve this it has a huge impact on your energy levels during the game, and this impacts on the quality of other aspects of the performance.
When you see a team making errors, not putting on effective plays, or just generally looking devoid of ideas in attack, it’s quite often down to the fact that they have done too much defending, they have failed to control the ruck area, and invested all their energy in trying to rectify the problem.
The importance of a strong start to the game is crucial, and it is going to be even more so once the play-offs come around.
We had some good individual performances at the weekend also, and it was great to have Sia Soliola back after missing a couple of games through injury. He was his usual energetic self, coming up with some thunderous tackles.
I also thought Chris Flannery was very good too. With him leaving at the end of the season, you can see that he wants to finish his career strongly, and hopefully we can all help him to do just that.
With the Challenge Cup final being played on Saturday afternoon, we don’t have a fixture this coming weekend. Obviously, we would rather be taking part in the Wembley showpiece, but unfortunately I, like many of you, will be an envious spectator.
I’m sure it will be a fantastic game, both teams like to play the game fast and they are equally adept at moving the ball around.
I think the performances of Lee Briers and Kevin Sinfield will be crucial in determining who is successful on the day. Both have plenty of big game experience and possess excellent kicking games, but they will be looking for their pack to lay a solid platform.
Finally, there was an internal court case held at our training facility last week, as Mark Flanagan contested his charge of being late on to the training field. In 15 years of being a professional, I’ve never seen a player overturn the verdict on an internal disciplinary procedure and this occasion was no different.
Tony Puletua and Francis Meli oversaw the proceedings to ensure it was a fair trial, but Mark didn’t have a leg to stand on, especially after damning evidence from a reliable witness – Gary Wheeler.
The jury of Soliola, Wilkin and McCarthy-Scarsbrook retired to consider the evidence and returned seconds later with a unanimous guilty verdict.
To say Flash was upset would be an understatement, and he spent some time questioning the credibility of the proceedings. His punishment was to provide and cook the boys a meal for after training, which he duly delivered.