Mark Minichiello: Hull FC forward critical of Super League double-header

Mark Minichiello
Mark Minichiello has been named in the 19-man squad to travel to face Catalans on Monday, having started for Hull FC on Friday as well

Hull FC forward Mark Minichiello has accused the Rugby Football League of failing to "look after players" by scheduling two double-header weekends during the Super League season.

The ex-New South Wales State of Origin representative, 35, also said players in Britain "need more of a voice" as demands on them are "ridiculous".

Hull FC travel to Catalans on Monday, having lost to Leigh on Friday.

In response, Ralph Rimmer of the RFL said: "Player welfare is paramount."

The chief operating officer continued: "The Rugby Football League does care about every player involved in the sport from community through to the top tier."

However, former South Sydney and Gold Coast Titans forward Minichiello, who has being playing in the northern hemisphere competition with Hull FC since 2015, said there are many things in Super League "that need to improve to get the game on the right path".

"I don't think the RFL look after their players at all," he told BBC Radio Humberside.

"They ask a lot of their players. It is a physical game we play and then we play two double-header periods in one season - that is ridiculous in my opinion."

Two games in four days and a 2,000-mile round trip

Hull, like Catalans, have the most taxing travel over the Bank Holiday weekend as both have games in England and France.

They are both back on English soil for the following round, as Hull are at home to Wigan on Saturday, 3 June, while Catalans fly in to face Widnes a day later.

"We'll do everything recovery-wise to get our energy levels back up and our body in the right frame to play a game a couple of days later," Minichiello said.

"It is even tougher when have to fly to Catalans, but we will deal with that and do it as best we can."

A case of the England camp that never was

The additional double-header in the Super League calendar this year, coming after the traditional Easter weekend fixtures, is the result of an England training camp being scheduled to take place in Dubai - a camp that was cancelled following consultation with Super League clubs.

"That is another thing that is absolutely crazy," said Minichiello.

"Start the competition a week later for a camp that didn't happen, then make players play three games in seven days twice in the year. I'd like to see them to do it."

Rimmer reiterated that the delayed start to the campaign was "collective decision in support of the national team".

'A players' union is needed'

Minichiello said players should have a voice when it comes to scheduling, but admits they lack a say because "players of the game don't have a united front".

"That allows the RFL to do what they want without consulting players," the Australian said.

"I know what it is like back home, all the players are on board and we are there to make sure the game is growing in the right direction and that everyone is looked after.

"It is easy to say and tough to do - there needs to be a collective player union where 100% of Super League players are involved.

"That is a great starting point to make sure the RFL has a point of call to go to and negotiate terms of play and the growth of the game.

"Players are the biggest asset the game has and we need a voice."

Despite the absence of a player union at an elite level since the demise of League 13 in 2015, the RFL said there is access to union representation through GMB.

"I know many do take up this option to support them with various matters," Rimmer said.

"Also, since being appointed as our rugby director, Kevin Sinfield has created a line of communication with club captains to regularly discuss different issues in the game with an aim to improve in any way we can."

Top Stories