Sunday Mirror


Rhi­nos are run­ning on empty, claims their exhausted skip­per

- BY JULIE STOTT Sports · Rugby · Hull City A.F.C. · Leeds United A.F.C. · Leeds Rhinos

LUKE GALE has urged rugby league bosses to end the sea­son and go straight into the play-offs.

with the Grand Fi­nal at Hull on Fri­day Novem­ber 27. Only teams that had played 15 games can qual­ify for a semi-fi­nal spot mean­ing Cata­lans, who are cur­rently fourth, could miss out as they have only played 12.

Their dilemma, plus the prospect of end­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son two weeks early and ex­pand­ing the play-offs to five or six teams, will be dis­cussed to­mor­row.

A na­tional lock­down could scup­per all plans but if sport is al­lowed to con­tinue, Gale added: “I’m not sure play­ers at the bot­tom of the ta­ble would be both­ered about car­ry­ing on be­cause they have noth­ing to play for.

“In a nor­mal sea­son play­ers are only asked to play twice in a few days at Easter. Now we’ve got Easter ev­ery week.

“I ’m not moan­ing be­cause we are all paid to play rugby and 2020 is a crazy sit­u­a­tion for every­body.

“Teams are step­ping up at short no­tice to play and the RFL and Su­per League have done re­ally well in get­ting th­ese games on.

“But if we can jump straight into a play-off sce­nario then we will have four, five or six teams that can make the games mean some­thing.

“At the mo­ment the stan­dard has dropped which isn’t a good thing.”

Four key Leeds play­ers will again miss to­day’s game, af­ter they were placed into iso­la­tion on Wed­nes­day be­cause of track and trace fol­low­ing 13 pos­i­tive Castle­ford tests.

Wi­gan could be crowned cham­pi­ons if the sea­son is ended per­ma­nently by lock­down, af­ter go­ing top fol­low­ing Fri­day night’s im­pres­sive 18-6 win over St He­lens.

The plan will be dis­cussed at a meet­ing of Su­per League clubs to­mor­row, amid fears that Covid-19 will con­tinue to wreak havoc on fix­tures.

It’s a pro­posal that Leeds Rhi­nos cap­tain Gale hopes will get the green light in or­der to pro­tect both play­ers and the stan­dard of the game.

He said: “Let’s fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son now, and end with a bang with knock­out games that mean some­thing. It would be a bet­ter spec­ta­cle than we have now.” Leeds have been play­ing roughly ev­ery three days for weeks, be­cause of their Chal­lenge Cup com­mit­ments and a Covid­caused fix­ture back­log.

It re­sulted in a limp 30-6 de­feat to lowly Wake­field on Thurs­day, HIGH POINT Gale lifts the three days af­ter cup, but is feel­ing the pace scrap­ing a win over Castle­ford and six days af­ter a hefty loss to St He­lens.

Gale, who was rested for the Saints game fol­low­ing his hero­ics in the Cup fi­nal win over Salford, said: “I’m 32 and woke up feel­ing like I’d been hit by a train on Fri­day af­ter two games in three days.”

Leeds play Wake­field again to­day but Gale said: “I’m not sure I’ll be phys­i­cally able to play.

“You could see on Thurs­day that our petrol tank was very quickly empty. It’s been a tough few weeks.”

In early Septem­ber RFL bosses an­nounced a top-four play-off sys­tem,

To­day, kick-off, 2pm

 ??  ?? LUKE’S NOT SO LIVELY Leeds skip­per Luke Gale wants to go straight to the play-offs
LUKE’S NOT SO LIVELY Leeds skip­per Luke Gale wants to go straight to the play-offs

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