Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Super League
It was great to see the opening Super League fixtures televised by Sky Sports deliver plenty of entertainment at the weekend.
The idea of kicking off the season with a St Helens versus Wigan derby was a masterstroke.
A big crowd of 16,508 created a cracking atmosphere, as the Saints began their season with a fine 22-12 win over the reigning Super League champions.
The game set the scene perfectly for the rest of the season. Wigan are still on minus two points after their penalty for salary cap breaches in 2017, and that has also helped spark a strong storyline for the coming season.
These little threads of drama have helped to keep the intrigue levels high, and people are still talking about the action on the field nearly a week after the game.
How refreshing that the action on the field is providing all the excitement we need.
Derby games also guarantee big crowds, so it was great for TV viewers to have the atmosphere of full houses to enjoy.
There were 12,100 at KCOM Craven Park for the Hull derby, a superb figure for Rovers which they have rarely met in years.
The Robins’ marketing team deserve plenty of credit for that. Their promotional videos packed in plenty of action, despite some viewers complaining about the amount of brawling between players that was featured in them.
What the Rovers marketing team was determine their target audience, and then make sure their content hit that market hard, pun intended.
Sometimes the simple things work best when it comes to promotion – something that should be noted by the producers of Super League’s own official promotional video.
Those fans who crowded into KCOM Craven Park were treated to a really dramatic game too, and generated an atmosphere which will have impressed any casual viewers turning on Sky Sports.
The Warrington versus Leeds game also delivered plenty of entertainment for neutrals, though probably none at all for Rhinos fans.
There are clearly some serious issues for David Furner to resolve at Headingley.
The likes of Steve Ward and Liam Sutcliffe look no closer to fulfilling their early career potential than they did last year.
Richie Myler and Tui Lolohea do not look like a natural halfback partnership, and Trent Merrin looked undercooked when it came to the physicality of Super League.
Warrington fans, and their coaching staff, will have been pleased with the performance, and will now be searching for the kind of season-long consistency that they need to win silverware.
The choice of these three games as Super League’s openers for Sky Sports was excellent.
Hopefully, it is a sign that more thought and professionalism is being applied to these things under the Robert Elstone regime.