Warrington Wolves chairman Stuart Middleton looks forward to the Super League playoffs in his new monthly column.

IS it that time of year already? The Super League play-offs have arrived and this is where things really get exciting.

As a club, we are just three games away from creating history. I invite all supporters to join us on this journey as we aim for Grand Final success at Old Trafford in just three weeks’ time.

On Friday night we will face a determined side in Hull KR, who have impressed many with their expansive brand of rugby this season and have a coach in Tony Smith that we’re all very familiar with.

It’s no easy task, and we now need our fans more than ever. The Halliwell Jones Stadium is a special venue and the atmosphere our supporters can create is unrivalled throughout the league. Our fans can truly be the 18th man on Friday night, make the HJ a fortress and rally the boys on to that semi final spot.

Having you all back in the ground this season has reinforced just how badly missed you were for matches played behind closed doors. The difference you make, the atmosphere under those Friday night lights adds to the spectacle and I think we’re in for a thrilling contest.

The support and commitment our fans have shown throughout the pandemic has not gone unnoticed, and I know all the players and everyone behind the scenes is determined to repay that faith now in the play-offs.

Moving forward, I am pleased to be part of the strategic working group to plot the important next steps for rugby league over the next decade. The review will be holistic including league competitions, cup competitions and new events across men’s, women’s, physical disability and wheelchair rugby league.

The group will consider the game’s event calendar, competition structures and player, fan and viewer experiences. It will be initially a three-month piece of work. There is a great deal of interest from potential partners and investors, provoked by the changes they know are happening. They will also bring expertise and look at it from a different perspective.

All stakeholders are unified in the belief and desire for change which itself is massive. We need to invigorate the sport and take it to the next level. I am excited about the future prospects and glad that Warrington can help to determine and influence such changes. There are no guarantees, but what I do know is we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

I am also on the realignment working group, which has been established to review the governance structure of rugby league with the collective belief that we are stronger together with a shared commercial entity.

The recent TV audience figures released show that viewing figures are up six per cent on average this season from 2020 – very impressive numbers given that crowds have now returned to watch live sport.

Finally, I want to finish by commending the services of our departing players and coaches. It was an emotional send-off after of our last home game and they’ve all been part of some incredible moments and big wins that will be forever etched in the history of this club.

Next year will be very much a new era, but for now there’s still a job to do as we chase that lucrative first Super League title. The fun times start on Friday night – I will see you there.