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Page last updated at 05:33 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 06:33 UK

Play-offs are flawed, says Wilkin

By Paul Fletcher

Jon Wilkin in action for St Helens
Wilkin says old format worked well

St Helens forward Jon Wilkin has hit out at the revamped Super League play-offs, saying they reward mediocrity.

Saints face Huddersfield on Saturday in their first match under the new format, which sees eight teams rather than six targeting a place in the Grand Final.

But Wilkin told BBC Sport: "I don't know why the system has changed.

"I'm not sure teams who finish below halfway should be given an opportunity to win the competition and be deemed champions for the next year."

St Helens and Leeds, who have contested the last two Grand Finals, are favourites to reach Old Trafford again in 2009.

The Rhinos finished top of the table at the end of the regular season, while Saints were second despite a disappointing run-in.

Wilkin thinks the new play-offs system may have been introduced to help other clubs break the stranglehold.

When you are not playing so well and losing games confidence does go - it is sometimes very hard to get that back

Jon Wilkin

"I appreciate we need to have the play-offs to have some added value to the game, but I don't really see why the old system wasn't working," he said.

"Perhaps it was because the top two teams were making the final.

"But if the best teams make the final, so be it. They have been the best all year so maybe they deserve a place in the final.

"I don't think we should reward mediocrity. We should aim for the best all the time."

Saints have lost four of their last five matches, including a defeat by Huddersfield Giants in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The two teams meet at Knowsley Road on Saturday, with Wilkin confident promising a committed performance from his team.

"Huddersfield got one over on us in the cup, which we are disappointed about. We are looking forward to the game," said the England international.

606: DEBATE

"We are looking to put a performance together. Regardless of how pretty it is or what people think about it, what matters it getting a result."

Wilkin admitted that confidence has suffered at the club after their poor run of results but believes victory against the Giants will set them on their way to another Grand Final.

"You can point the finger at all sorts of issues, but I think the main reason we have not been getting results is due to our performance and maybe our attention to detail in games," he added.

"Confidence is everything in sport and probably one of the X-factor things you cannot take into account.

"When you are not playing so well and losing games confidence does go. It is sometimes very hard to get that back.

"Confidence is one of the most important attributes a champion team can have. We need to rediscover that confidence."



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see also
Road to Old Trafford
25 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Ask Jon Wilkin
31 Jan 09 |  Rugby League
Cunningham signs 'final' contract
15 Sep 09 |  St Helens
St Helens 14-24 Huddersfield
09 Aug 09 |  Rugby League



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