A long hard season finally ended on Sunday when England took on New Zealand in the third test at Elland Road. While the players turn their dreams of tropical beaches into reality, the fans thoughts turn to 2019 and how their side might fare in the cut and thrust of the new domestic season.
We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.
There was surprise and consternation from Australia when Saints and England superstar winger Tommy Makinson was named as only the fifth ever English recipient of the Golden Boot award at the Rugby League International Federation dinner in Leeds. Makinson joined an illustrious list of names; Ellery Hanley, Garry Schofield, Andy Farrell and Kevin Sinfield; as recipients of the prestigious award.
England forward George Burgess started his winter break early as a four game suspension for ‘eye gouging’ in the second test cost him a four game ban as he went in front of the disciplinary committee on Tuesday evening. Despite pleading ‘not guilty’ to the charge, claiming it was accidental, the panel issued the suspension alongside a £500 fine.
Saints prop forward Alex Walmsley announced that he is fully fit and looking forward to returning to pre-season training after breaking a bone in his neck last March.
Salford Red Devils have signed twenty-eight year old former Hull KR player Ken Sio from the Newcastle Knights on a three year deal. The fast running winger had recorded a tally of seventeen tries in forty-one appearances for the Knights over the last two seasons.
Wigan second-rower Joe Greenwood was brought into the England side and although he will start the game on the bench he’s been asked to provide cover in the unfamiliar position of prop by coach Bennett.
France won the European Championship with an impressive 28-10 win over Scotland in Carcassonne. Morgan Escare starred for the Blues with two tries and six goals.
England were thrashed 34-0 in the third and final test against New Zealand but having already lost the series, with the home side retaining the Baskerville Shield, it was scant consolation for the Kiwis and their coach Michael Maguire as they got on the plane to return home.
Wales secured a place in the 2021 World Cup thanks to a comprehensive 40-8 win over Ireland in Wrexham. Scotland and Ireland now have to play further qualifiers to secure their places for the competition which will be held in England.
After a meeting of the International Congress over the weekend it was announced that the Great Britain Lions would tour Australia at the end of the 2019 season while England would play a three match test series against Australia in the UK in the autumn of 2020.
Salford Red Devils have further strengthened their squad with the arrival of Adam Lawton from a four year stint in Australia where the former Widnes Vikings forward had been plying his trade for the Redcliffe Dolphins.
The legal department have been busy at Salford as they also announced the permanent signing of Jansin Turgut who spent the last part of the 2018 season on loan from Hull FC. The young forward struggled to secure a regular first team spot for the Airlie Birds and spent a couple of periods out on loan last season.
Hull KR captain Danny McGuire has confirmed that the 2019 season will be his last as a player , finishing his playing career just short of his thirty-seventh birthday. If McGuire can stay fit and figure throughout the season then he will be close approaching 500 appearances by the time he hangs up his boots.
Ex-Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is back in rugby league as he joins the Toronto Wolfpack as head coach for the 2019 season just a day after incumbent coach Paul Rowley left the club following a season where they dominated the Championship but failed to get promotion to Super League.
Leeds Rhinos have announced a comprehensive pre-season schedule as they look to be back challenging for honours under new coach Dave Furner. They will play home games against Wakefield Trinity (26/12) and the Castleford Tigers (20/1) while going on the road to face Doncaster (13/1), Coventry (18/1), Featherstone (27/1) and Hunslet (3/2), the last of these the day after the clubs opening Super League game away at Warrington Wolves.
It is rumoured that Featherstone Rovers coach John Duffy is in talks to become the new head coach of Leigh Centurions. Leigh have still not started recruiting for 2019 and will look to get a new coach in place before this process begins but the new boss should have some money to play with after owner Derek Beaumont announced that the release of Kevin Larroyer and Rhys Evans had freed up around forty percent of the clubs salary commitment.