BBC BLOGS - George Riley

England's fresh look adds interest to autumn internationals

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George Riley George Riley | 15:40 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2012

It is a scaled-down international series which provides the full-stop to the rugby league year.

There is no Four Nations this autumn given that the World Cup is heading to England and Wales in 2013. Australia and New Zealand have instead stayed at home and played each other in a one-off Townsville Test - the Aussies winning 18-10.

England, therefore, took their elite squad for a training camp in South Africa, before returning to play Wales and France.

France beat Wales 20-6 on Saturday, but, with every respect to those two sides, these autumn internationals are unlikely to do much to help England breach the gap between themselves and the southern hemisphere superpowers. However, they may at least offer an indication of how far they are away from the very best.

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Warrington and Leeds set for Grand Final

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George Riley George Riley | 18:24 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Grand Final is a unique occasion in that an entire season is defined over 80 minutes. Some say that is wrong - Wigan fans will feel aggrieved this year that they have ended up with nothing after finishing top of the pile. But what is undisputable is the drama that this system creates, and the adrenaline and tension that it will pump into Old Trafford on Saturday.

It looks like a perfect final. Defending champions against Challenge Cup winners for the first time.

Warrington coach Tony Smith, a Grand Final winner with Leeds, is bidding to become the first coach to win it with two different teams. Brian McDermott, a former assistant of Smith at Leeds, has guided the Rhinos to every single League and Cup final achievable since he took over two years ago.

It seems astonishing to think that just over 12 months ago, before Leeds' historic run to the title from fifth in the table, McDermott was being booed by sections of the Headingley crowd who wanted him to be sacked.

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Super League final four has a familiar look to it

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George Riley George Riley | 09:57 UK time, Thursday, 27 September 2012

So here we go.

Four teams are bidding for two places in the Super League Grand Final. And yet again it is the familiar faces fighting the business end of the rugby league year.

The final four comprises the two best sides over the regular season and last year's two Grand Finalists. We appear set for a fitting finale and potentially a dramatic denouement.

Wigan and St Helens are the sides with home advantage after a week off. And it is the Warriors who have chosen to play Leeds Rhinos, sending Warrington Wolves to Saints.

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