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Matt Diskin’s thoughts on coaching get Scully’s backing

MATT Diskin’s well-chronicled call for a return to a more expansive and a more entertaining style of Rugby League has received the unqualified backing of former St Helens and Great Britain legend Paul Sculthorpe.

Few players of yesteryear have as much clout in the modern game as Scully, who is still involved at international level with the England set-up.

And to those of a certain age who have seen rugby league become so much more structured over the last few years it was a breath of fresh air to listen to Scully and to Lee Briers advocating a re-boot of the sport with a lot more emphasis on core skills and the return to a brand of rugby in which play-makers, especially half-backs, play instinctively and react to what they see in front of them.

Anyone who didn’t listen to these former greats of the game talking on the latest ‘Rugby League Back-Chat’ television presentation can catch up online at TotalRL.com, the programme’s sponsors, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

Though not directly involved, Oldham boss Diskin’s views figured prominently after anchor-man Matthew Shaw said he had been talking to the ex-Leeds Rhinos hooker, who had again expressed the view that the modern game was too structured and players were no longer being coached to play what they saw in front of them.

Briers, a key member of the Warrington Wolves coaching staff, was initially somewhat guarded in his reaction, but not so Scully who came straight out with it. “I agree with Matt Diskin,” he said.

Paul Sculthorpe

“For me the game has changed a lot over the years. I’m not in favour of three ‘middles’ — it was better as it used to be with two props and a loose-forward.

“If I was still playing today I’d be frustrated as a loose-forward and frustrated as a half-back because half-backs are not close enough to the action to run the game like they used to do. So often nowadays a forward will take the first pass and by the time the half-backs get their hands on the ball they can’t make much of an impression.

“For me a half-back should run the show but in Super League these days that’s not happening because they’re not close enough to the action and in any case they’re not being coached to play what’s in front of them.

“The best players win matches and they are the ones with the best physical attributes and the best skills. They’ve got to be allowed to express themselves but they can only do that if they’ve got core skills.

“Games very rarely pan out like training sessions. You can have as much structure as you want, but what happens when games don’t go to plan?

“The answer lies in players with core skills being given the freedom to play what they see.”

Matt Diskin

Regarding the international game, he said it was like a breath of fresh air to be working with new England boss Shaun Wane. He was confident we would see much better England performances in the World Cup next year.

Sculthorpe added:

“We need to play the British way, the skilful way. We’ve been trying to beat the Aussies at their own game and that’s not the way to do it.

“You’ll see a vastly different team though with Shaun in charge, both in how we play and in what is demanded of a player who has the honour of wearing the England shirt.”

Briers said young players growing up in the game today didn’t have any knowledge of what the game used to be like.

He added:

“If this is the way we want to go we’ll have to re-boot our game and the first thing I would do is get rid of Scholarships and bring back town teams at under-11s, under-13s and under-15s.

“Just let kids play, enjoy themselves and develop their own skills. We all like to win, but there’s a bigger picture. Society has changed and kids these days are not playing out every night after school like we used to do.

“I’d be playing rugby 35 hours a week when I was a lad, at dinner time in the playground, for the school team, every night after school, for my amateur team and so on.

“It’s not like that any more so there’s bound to be a difference We can still teach and coach core skills though. That’s the secret of success in any sport.

“When did we last see a chip and chase ? It doesn’t happen any more. Danny Maguire was probably the last half-back to do his own thing and if it didn’t come off to say to himself . . . so what.

“It’s up to us professional coaches to lead the way. Give the kids their head, just let them play.”

You can hear the full interviews online at totalrl.com



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AS lockdown restrictions start to ease, now is the time for everyone connected with Oldham RLFC to do all they can to help with getting income from our Club Cash lottery back to where it was before the pandemic started to bite.

This is vital for the club and its finances which, as you all know, have taken a massive hit in the past 12 months.

Collectors will be returning to door-to-door visits in the next few weeks and we hope people who suspended payments will pick up where they left off as we strive and work hard to get back to where we were before the pandemic caused us to lose 50 per cent of our lottery income.

Many of our regular punters, who would normally pay a collector, have answered our calls for help by finding other ways to pay and to retain their chances of winning prizes.

To those people we are very grateful and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for their loyal and continued support.

The lottery, of course, is potentially one of our biggest fund-raisers and for as little as £1 a week — more if you wish — you can help the club immensely and at the same time have chances to win £1,000, £100, £50, £25 or one of ten consolation prizes of £10.

That’s the present prize structure. There’s every chance it will be increased once we are out of lockdown, door-to-door collections start again and we get back to some sort of normality.

In the meantime you can join, or start up again, by contacting the club on 07904 898177 or by email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

For more information about the lottery, and for the “great opportunities” provided by our partnership with the National Youth and Community Development Association (NYCDA) go our Club Cash page.

There, you will find all the results and a detailed statement about getting back to normal with the help of our not-for-profit partners.

All proceeds from the partnership will continue to support the club and help us to meet the aims of our Club Cash activities, particularly in its aims and objectives to be an active stakeholder in the local community.

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