Peter Wiffa Smith is enjoying a testimonial year at Widnes Vikings in recognition of 10 years of loyal service to his hometown club. In this column, exclusively for the Weekly News he is keeping fans up to date with goings-on at the Auto Quest Stadium and events on his benefit calendar.
THE big talking point in the past few weeks has been the defection of rugby league players to union.
Iestyn Harris has now gone from Leeds although Keiron Cunningham has stayed with St Helens, but the underlying problem is still there and needs addressing.
I believe rugby league is the bet -ter game of course I do, I have played it all my life and suspect those players who have gone over from league to the 15-a-side game will still feel exactly the same.
But I can see the players point of view. It is a short career and union is where the money is.
It s now up to rugby league to stand up and be counted, which they have already done to a certain extent with Keiron.
W e are going to have to make sure the best players are attracted into league and they don t take what for our perspective would be a wrong turn when it comes to choos -ing their rugby options.
W ith so many Australians playing league in England, there is a dan -ger they will feel the opportunities aren t there for them.
As for Iestyn Harris, he was prob -ably looking for a new challenge. After everything he has done in Rugby League, he may have felt a bitstale.
And so to the Vikings. We have fi -nally been accepted for Super League and the speculation has started as to who will be coming in. Its been suggested Gary Connolly has already been down here but while it would be nice to get some big stars, I am not sure Widnes are yet in a position to afford them.
I would also imagine Neil Kelly will be looking as far as possible to keep faith with the players who have brought the club this far.Butof course, he will be adding to the squad to make it bigger and better.
There are also rumours about Su -per League clubs scrapping their Under 21s/Alliance teams to con -centrate on Academy rugby.
As important as an Academy would be to Widnes, the Alliance team is an integral part of the game, not only as a stepping stone but also to keep fringe players match-fit or accommodate those returning from injury.
So I hope this is just another ru -mour.
Apologies for the postponement of the 24-hour pool competition at the Ball O Ditton. Paul Harris could -n t get the round-the-clock licence but this event will still go ahead sometime in September venue to be arranged. So please keep hold of your sponsorship money.
Don t forget the Parklands club is holding a Gentlemen s Evening in aid of my benefit fund tomorrow.It features comedian Frankie Allen and two exotic dancers. Admission is £5 pay at the door (7.30pm).