Super League’s Grand Final gatecrashes one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world this week, when an intriguing West Yorkshire derby descends into Manchester.
Runaway league leaders Castleford Tigers take on Leeds Rhinos, when, for one night per year, football is a mere afterthought and Rugby League takes over Old Trafford.
Title sponsors Betfred, which beat off competition from Betfair and previous title sponsors First Utility to the honour, is one year into a three deal with the Rugby Football League (RFL).
With Ladbrokes sponsoring the Challenge Cup in addition to the 2016 Four Nations offering, it means that betting companies have the monopoly on RL’s major competitions.
SBC caught up with Betfred Marketing Director Mark Pearson, to see how things are going in their debut RL season: “It’s great brand exposure and Saturday night will be a sell out.
“Sky do a fabulous job, along with the other members of the media, both broadcast and print, who cover the sport with such passion.
“The Rugby Football League are great to work with, and it is a partnership (that we have with the RFL) not a sponsorship.
“It’s been great for our Social Media and has provided some great content.
“All the clubs are accommodating and (we) can’t wait for the final on Saturday night.
“It should be a great final.”
Betfred make the Tigers 4/7 favourites to triumph compared to 6/4 for their counterparts from Headingley.
Understandable considering the ten point gap they enjoyed at the top of Super League table to secure the league leaders shield, a gap that remained at the culmination of the Super 8s.
When you factor in the 66-10 hammering Leeds endured at The Jungle back in March, the four victories for Castleford already this season and the fact you have go back nine meetings before you a see ‘W’ next to the Leeds Rhinos name, you get a deeper understanding of just why they are favourites across the board.
However, yesterday’s news that full-back Zak Hardaker has been dropped for a ‘breach of club rules,’ could well breathe added life into Leeds, and while Castleford are set to embark on their first foray under the bright lights of Old Trafford for a Grand Final, wily veterans Leeds are entering Super League’s showpiece for tenth time.
Castleford are quite rightly favourites with bookmakers across the land after the hugely impressive season they have had, but it would take a brave man to count out the Rhinos.