Aussie comedian Adam Hills isn’t joking when he says the Premier League needs to get itself a Grand Final.
TV star Hills, a massive rugby league fan, has been leading Channel 4 ’s coverage of the Betfred Super League this season. It’s the first time the competition has been shown on free-to-air television in its 26-year history. The coverage, largely on Saturday lunchtimes, has been a big hit.
And the latest live game to be shown in their 10-match deal is Sunday’s battle between champions St Helens and Castleford. Super League’s play-offs series is fast approaching and Channel 4 will show one of those every Saturday as the race for Old Trafford hots up. Hull KR, Leeds and Hull are all currently on the outside of the top-six but still have burning ambitions to make it with six games remaining.
And Hills, who plays PDRL for Warrington and will represent Australia at this autumn’s World Cup, admits he loves this time of year. He said: “I can’t get my head around the Premier League. It just gets to the end and it’s like ‘well, you’re in front, you’ve won.’
“At the risk of sounding overly northern, ‘I love a Grand Final, me!’ I grew up in Australia with the concept of the Grand Final being the biggest match of the year. Everyone wants to make it. Watching the Premier League, I always end up thinking ‘there’s no Grand Final!’ I don’t understand it.”
Admittedly, some rugby league fans would prefer to go back to the old first-past-the-post system like football. But the Old Trafford Grand Final – which takes place on September 24 – has grown and grown since its inception in 1998. Leaders Saints, who have lost winger Regan Grace to a season-ending ruptured Achilles, are hotly-tipped to make it four titles in a row.
But Sunday’s huge shock 44-12 loss at Salford has reminded everyone what could happen yet. Hills added: “That’s what you want at the end of the Super League season – not being sure who’s going to end up where.
“I was talking to our producer about the next couple of games we’re covering for Channel 4.
“I want to explain to viewers how the finals series works. Because if you know Premier League – or don’t know Super League that well – you don’t know how it’s going to work.
“This week we’ve St Helens v Cas and then next week we’ve Salford against Huddersfield. All of them are in the top-six so I want to explain that where they finish in that top-six depends on whether they get home advantage when they get to the play-offs.
“It is tight particularly with Salford – who are sixth – beating Saints on Sunday.
“It’s a cliche but genuinely anything can happen from here.”