As Widnes Vikings sit proudly at the top of the Super League table and the rest of the game wonders how this has happened, do we take it as a sign that the much maligned salary cap is working?
A lack of real spending power in Super League and a focus of bringing in their own youngsters has steadied many clubs. Castleford and Widnes especially seem to have benefitted from this tactic. Big spenders such as Hull FC and Salford have not reaped any reward for their outlay. In fact Salford have improved through not spending as much and relying instead upon teamwork.
There is no doubt that we have seen the same teams contest finals year after year. However, Leeds Rhinos had the spine of that team for ten years, having now lost Sinfield and with Burrows and Maguire in their twilight, Leeds’ next generation doesn’t look as strong. Wigan whose excellent youth policy and whose coach Shaun Wane must be applauded for standing by the youngsters instead of expensive imports are still at the head of the game, however, the gap is considerably closer between the “Big Four” and the rest than it has been for a long time.
So let’s hope that Widnes can do a “Leicester City” and stay with the leaders, hoping that in the not too distant future we may see cup finals between Castleford and Salford or Widnes and Warrington. This would then give the sport a refreshing change.