Hull KR fullback Ben Cockayne has labelled the Million-Pound Game a “disgrace”, insisting he will not be celebrating if his side beat Salford in their crunch Super League relegation decider.
The Million-Pound Game was introduced last year as part of the Super 8s concept designed to re-introduce promotion and relegation in a controlled manner and Wakefield preserved their Super League status last October with a dramatic win over leading Championship club Bradford.
This time a Super League club is guaranteed to go down after Leigh finished second in the Qualifiers and their place in the Championship will go to the losers of Saturday’s sudden-death tie at the Lightstream Stadium.
“I think the concept is a disgrace to be honest,” Cockayne said at a press conference to launch the game, which will be littered with former NRL players.
“On Sunday morning there will be a group of people without a job, that’s the top and bottom of it and I’m not just talking about playing staff.
“At the end of the game there’s nothing to celebrate because, if you’re on the winning side you’re faced with a bunch of people that you respect who you play a tough sport against numerous times a season who will be out of a job.
“Or if you’re on the losing side, you’re out of a job yourself.”
Super League contracts will automatically become null and void for the defeated players and their club will not receive a parachute payment to cushion their fall.
Wakefield players described the build-up to last year’s inaugural Million-Pound Game as the worst week of their lives and Cockayne believes it contradicts the Rugby Football League’s attempts to improve mental-health issues in the game.
“It’s something that needs looking at,” said the former Wakefield player, who is in his second spell with the Rovers.
“We’re not on (soccer players’) wages where we can pay a mortgage off in a couple of weeks.
“We’re talking about promoting mental health in our game but this does nothing for that.
“There’ll be some lucky enough to keep their jobs and their salaries and a group of people who will either lose it, or get their salary chopped or see their family in all sorts of trouble.
“Provided we get the job done I think it will be a sense of relief rather than celebration.
“I won’t be jumping about and I’d be disappointed if any of my team-mates would be jumping about as well because as at the end of the day a group of people will walk away and Sunday morning be without a job.
“It’s an awful concept and awful game to be in but we have to deal with and I’m really confident of coming out of it positive.”