Your weekly rugby league podcast from BBC Radio 5 Live featuring the latest news, analysis and interviews with Dave Woods.
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Fantastic, Fabulous, Fascinating Friday!
Matt Newsum welcomes coaching legend John Kear to the podcast ahead of a dramatic final round of Super League fixtures with a three-way battle for the League Leaders Shield and play-off positions and places still up for grabs.
In what John promises will be a “fascinating Friday” he takes a forensic look at the prospects of Wigan, Catalans and St Helens, and which of the trio is best equipped to take the coveted top spot in the league, and go for glory in the prestigious Grand Final.
John also brings his expertise and experience to reflect on the tussle for 4th place between Leigh and Hull KR, with home advantage at stake in the play-off eliminator. And will it be Warrington or Salford who take the coveted final play-off spot in the post-season?
There’s also drama guaranteed in this weekend’s final round of Championship games with four teams jostling for two play-off spots. And there’s no one better qualified than John to look at the contenders having coached three of the four teams in the top eight.
Matt Newsum is in St Helens for the launch of the 2023 International Test Series between England and Tonga, which will see the two nations collide in three matches in October and November. The England Head Coach Shaun Wane previews the series along with Captain George Williams, and we hear from Kristian Woolf, who led St Helens to three Super League titles and is returning to the UK in the autumn as Head Coach of Tonga.
Hodgson Calls Time
Matt Newsum and Kevin Brown are joined by former England, Hull KR, Canberra and Parramatta hooker Josh Hodgson who recently announced his retirement from Rugby League. He was the first ever English player to represent Canberra, and captained them in the NRL Grand Final in 2019. Widely recognised as one of British Rugby League’s finest exports to Australia, he was also part of the England squad who reached the World Cup Final in 2017.
The French connection
On this week’s podcast, Matt Newsum and Kevin Brown are joined by Eamon O’Carroll. The former Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings prop forward, whose career was ended prematurely through injury, is now on the coaching staff at Catalans Dragons who currently head the Super League table. A Grand Final appearance at Old Trafford would cap a hugely successful second spell in the South of France for Eamon before he heads back to England and Bradford to take up the head coaching role with the Bulls in 2024.
Who’d be a ref?
Dave Woods and ex-England half-back Kevin Brown are joined by former referee James Child who retired in December after more than a decade of officiating at the top level. They discuss the abuse referees receive, whether they’re swayed by the crowd and how they react when they realise they’ve made a wrong decision. Child also came out as gay while still refereeing and he talks how difficult it was and is for others within sport in general to make that very public decision.