Super League: Wakefield Trinity vs Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons vs Hull KR talking points | Rugby League News


Dual-code international Kyle Eastmond could make his Leeds debut against Wakefield

Dual-code international Kyle Eastmond could make his Leeds debut against Wakefield

The new Betfred Super League season continues with another double-header on Saturday as Wakefield Trinity face local rivals Leeds Rhinos and last season’s semi-finalists Catalans Dragons take on Hull KR…

Trinity turn to Lino

Chris Chester’s primary objective during the off-season was to recruit a half-back and some glowing references from former Super League players convinced him to swoop for Mason Lino.

Blake Green and Clint Newton both spoke highly of the Samoa international, who spent six years in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights.

Mason Lino joined Wakefield from Newcastle Knights

Mason Lino joined Wakefield from Newcastle Knights

Lino’s arrival provides Chester with some much-needed options in the halves following Danny Brough’s departure, and the Trinity boss hopes he will take some of the pressure off Jacob Miller.

“He’s brought a real professionalism to the outfit and he’s a smart footballer as well with some smart ideas about how the game should be played,” said Chester.

“I think that’ll take a lot of pressure off Milky this year. At times, we went into games with only one recognised half-back and we were having to play guys like Max Jowitt and Ryan Hampshire out of position there.”

2:22
Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone is delighted to be compared to NFL superstar Odell Beckham Jr for his spectacular finishes in Super League

Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone is delighted to be compared to NFL superstar Odell Beckham Jr for his spectacular finishes in Super League

Miller, who got his first opportunity to play alongside Lino in the 30-10 victory over Dewsbury Rams in a recent pre-season game, believes the 27-year-old will allow him more freedom to play his own game too.

“It’s been really good,” said Miller. “It has given me the chance to free up a bit.

“In the last few seasons, I’ve had to kind of take on that role of organising a lot of things that probably didn’t suit my game to a tee.

“Hopefully you’ll see me run the ball a little bit more, and not organising and worrying about things around me. I can take a bit of a load off and worry about my own game.”

Back in tandem

0:30
Eastmond spent five seasons in Super League with St Helens before moving to rugby union in 2011

Eastmond spent five seasons in Super League with St Helens before moving to rugby union in 2011

Almost 15 years since playing together for England U18s, Luke Gale and Kyle Eastmond could renew their half-back partnership on Saturday.

Eastmond is back in rugby league after a nine-year stint in the 15-man code and is set to make his Leeds debut alongside Gale, who has recovered from the torn pectoral muscle he suffered in January.

“He’s looking really sharp,” said Gale. “He’s a great addition to the side. I think he will fit seamlessly back into rugby league.”

Wakefield Trinity vs Leeds Rhinos

March 27, 2021, 2:30pm

Live on

Eastmond made an almost seamless transition into rugby union, playing at centre for Premiership heavyweights Bath, Wasps and Leicester Tigers while also winning six England caps, three of which came against the All Blacks.

“He’s multi-skilled,” said Leeds coach Richard Agar. “He’s got the ability to pass the ball short or long off both hands, an explosive running game, and a kicking game we know has only been enhanced playing in rugby union.

“One thing we did chat about was the defensive differences in the game and being a No 12 in union you probably get a bit more traffic than being a three-in defender in rugby league.

“So, having to throw himself in front of some bigger bodies is an indication too he’s certainly not struggling when it comes to toughness and bravery.”

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England cricketer Jonny Bairstow recalls some funny occasions at Headingley when the team were using the same dressing room as Super League side Leeds Rhinos

England cricketer Jonny Bairstow recalls some funny occasions at Headingley when the team were using the same dressing room as Super League side Leeds Rhinos

Eastmond is not the only former St Helens half to arrive at Headingley in the close season. Saints legend Sean Long also returned from union to become assistant coach and Gale hopes working under the former Great Britain scrum-half will boost his hopes of making Shane Wane’s World Cup squad later this year.

“He’s got a great rugby league brain and I want to tap into that,” said Gale. “I love the way he played, he’s a great tutor to have.”

Named squads

Wakefield Trinity: Tom Johnstone, Bill Tupou, Reece Lyne, Liam Kay, Jacob Miller, Mason Lino, David Fifita, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Kelepi Tanginoa, Joe Westerman, James Batchelor, Chris Green, Innes Senior, Jordy Crowther, Joe Arundel, Alex Walker, Adam Tangata, Josh Wood, Brad Walker, Yusuf Aydin.

Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Luke Gale (c), Mikolaj Oledski, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Liam Sutcliffe, Richie Myler, Cameron Smith, King Vuniyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Alex Sutcliffe, Sam Walters, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jarrod O’Connor, Jack Broadbent, Kyle Eastmond.

No excuses from Catalans

The 2020 Super League season was challenging for every club, but none more so than Catalans.

The Perpignan side played just 13 regular-season games during the Covid-interrupted campaign, with a number of matches cancelled and the Dragons forced to suspend training after some players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Sam Tomkins enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2020

Sam Tomkins enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2020

Even Mother Nature appeared to be against them, with the squad forced to drive two and a half hours to Toulouse to try and get to England for the game against Warrington last September after their charter flight was unable to land in Perpignan due to strong winds.

Catalans are lagging behind their Super League rivals in terms of preparations for this campaign. Because of government restrictions on elite sport in France, they only convened as a team for pre-season training on March 1.

“No matter what gets put in front of you, you’ve got to find a way past it and you can’t look for an excuse,” said Catalans coach Steve McNamara, who despite the adversity led his side to a Super League semi-final last year.

“Sometimes there are reasons as to why teams may perform better than others, and you might play a team which has had a seven-day turnaround and you’ve had a five-day turnaround. You can use all of it as excuses, but I think every situation you’ve got to overcome it.

Catalans Dragons vs Hull K R

March 27, 2021, 5:00pm

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“In sport, in life, whatever it may be, you don’t just give in and roll over – and that was us last year.

“We had to roll our sleeves up; there were some very late nights, some very early mornings getting back and situations to deal with, but that’s the challenge of being at Catalans.

“That’s what makes it a special place to play and coach at is that we do have some of those difficulties and they’re difficulties most other teams in the competition don’t face – and if they do it’s once or twice a year.”

Friendly fire

Steve McNamara and Tony Smith played and coached together

Steve McNamara and Tony Smith played and coached together

Two old acquaintances will be in opposing dugouts on Saturday.

Tony Smith and Steve McNamara played together in reserve grade at St George in Australia, with Smith then coaching McNamara at Huddersfield before the pair worked together with England.

“I can’t speak for Steve, but there is a mutual respect there and it has always been there,” said Hull KR coach Smith, who will be out for revenge after the Robins’ 34-4 drubbing by Catalans last October.

“Steve is a good pro, he was as a player and he’s gone on to be a great pro as a coach. He gives it his all and he probably wasn’t the most gifted of players, but he certainly got what he had out of him and a bit more because he applied himself so well.

“We’ve been good mates and I think there is a healthy, mutual respect for one another.”

Named squads

Catalans Dragons: Arthur Mourgue, Tom Davies, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Benjamin Garcia, Alrix Da Costa, Benjamin Jullien, Paul Seguier, Mickael Goudemand, Lambert Belmas, Mathieu Laguerre, Jason Baitieri, Joe Chan, Sam Kasiano, Sam Tomkins.

Hull Kingston Rovers: Adam Quinlan, Ben Crooks, Greg Minikin, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Ryan Hall, Jordan Abdull, Albert Vete, Matt Parcell, Korbin Sims, Brad Takairangi, Kane Linnett, Dean Hadley, Jez Litten, George Lawler, George King, Elliot Minchella, Matty Storton, Mikey Lewis, Ethan Ryan, Rowan Milnes, Luis Johnson.





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