All bets are off on Ben Barba becoming Man of Steel 2018.
And I’ve got that on good authority from who else but Super League title sponsors Betfred!
Following another virtuoso performance by our superstar full back against Castleford Tigers in the 6th round Challenge Cup the book has been well and truly shut with Betfred taking no further bets on Barba picking up the highest individual honour in the game….and it’s only May.
The Aussie star has been head and shoulders above all season and continued that form in the tough cup-tie on Saturday. He scored a hat-trick as well as having a hand in two others, helping Saints to a convincing 36-18 win over Cas.
Barba is the one taking all the plaudits but he’s only part of a very good team that’s great to see playing with such confidence.
Other stand out performers this season are of course James Roby, Mark Percival and Tommy Makinson, with young half back Danny Richardson continuing his senior development in great style.
It has been ten long years since Saints enjoyed Challenge Cup success at Wembley (some enjoyed more than others…ouch!) …but if this team continue to put out performances they have shown so far this season, there’s no reason we can’t get that monkey off our back.
Next to try and stop that though are current two-time Challenge Cup holders Hull FC, following the quarter-final draw post-game on Saturday. Hull FC are going through their own nightmare at the moment following some major injuries in their Challenge Cup win at Featherstone on Thursday. Another interesting outcome of the draw was the pairing of long-standing Betfred Super League rivals Warrington and Wigan following their wins over Toronto Wolfpack and Hull KR respectively.
The other quarter-finals came out with Leeds meeting lone Betfred Championship side Leigh and Huddersfield hosting the Catalan Dragons.
Betfred have Saints as favourites to lift the cup, and are also offering 6/1 to win BOTH Challenge Cup and Super League titles!
Back to Super League…and this week it’s off to Newcastle for a ‘Magic’ weekend in the Rugby League calendar. What other sport could do what we do, 14 teams (inc Toronto v Toulouse), 7 games in one stadium, over one weekend! Always a great atmosphere at St James’ Park seeing fans from rival clubs mingling, enjoying some spectacular games and sharing one love…. RL!
Another highlight of the weekend will be seeing many of the clubs running out in their one-off Magic Weekend Charity kits, raising funds for some very worthy causes. Saints again supporting Autism Awareness, but a special mention to the Salford Red Devils whose yellow Manchester Bee shirt is in support of the Manchester Arena terror attack, with £5 of every shirt sold going to the victim’s fund.
Saints take on the Widnes Vikings in the opening game, and on current form, I can only see one winner. I’m tipping Saints to win by 20+ (5/6 at Betfred)
Enjoy a great Rugby League festival!