EASTER is nearly upon us so get used to coaches answering the perennial old chestnut ‘Are two games in four days too much on the players?’

Everybody knows Super League is a high octane, physically demanding sport and nobody disputes it must be tough recovering from one strenuous 80 minutes then bouncing into another after a two-day recovery.

Fatigue is the main reason highlighted for what have increasingly been low intensity, error-strewn and occasionally lacklustre games on the Easter Monday.

But jaded players carrying bumps is not the only issue - another factor is the ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ syndrome.

It is not just the players from either side of Billinge Lump that get themselves up for a Saints v Wigan clash, try telling the fans that the two points on a Good Friday have the same value as those played for an Easter Monday.

The Maundy Thursday/Good Friday programme features all the must see derby games – Saints v Wigan, Leeds v Bradford, Widnes v Warrington, Cas v Wakey and the Humberside derby.

The Monday fixture now, just seems like an add-on fixture.

Off the top of my head I can’t think of that many rip-roaring Easter Monday games since the switch to summer.

Of course there was the one that grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons – when then coach Ian Millward sent a weakened team to Odsal in 2004. A plan that backfired spectacularly, didn’t it?

Then there was Jamie Foster kicking a winning conversion to Francis Meli’s post-hooter touchdown against Cas in 2011.

And of course, by default, we had 2002 when Saints’ traditional tie with Wigan was shunted back to the Monday and Kieron Cunningham produced one of the all time great tackles on opposite number Mark Smith and that unbelievable blind pass from Tommy Martyn to Peter Shiels.

Apart from those encounters, nothing really jumps out. Have I got the rose tinted specs on again, but Easter Monday never used to be as flat as that.

Of course it was different in the pre-summer days when the bank holiday double header could effectively decide the destiny of the championship.

But there was tradition there, too, based on derby rivalries.

From the 70s through to the year before Super League started Saints always played Wigan on Boxing Day and Good Friday*, and Widnes on New Year’s Day and Easter Monday.

(*Apart from 1980/81 when Oldham had to step in for the Riversiders following their relegation.)

This year, like the previous three, Saints play Castleford on Easter Monday.

In previous Super League years Hull, Huddersfield, Salford, Catalan, Bradford and Warrington have all provided the opposition.

There is no logic to the format and no attempt to tie in with the derby traditions of Easter programming. It is almost like the fixture planners are going out of their way to make sure the Monday fixture list is as nondescript as possible.

Instead of Widnes traipsing over to Huddersfield on Easter Monday this year they should be coming to Langtree Park instead of Cas, who would find the trip to the Giants slightly easier.

Or do we really want RL fans to spend bank holidays travelling on motorways?

Ps. For those feeling sorry for today’s players, here is some info I dug up from the excellent Saints Heritage website.

In 1958 Saints played at Leigh on Christmas Day, entertained Wigan in front of 32,000 fans on Boxing Day and then the following day Oldham visited Knowsley Road, with the crowd again a healthy 28,000.

And what is the betting Vinty Karalius, Dick Huddart et al didn’t have a cryogenic chamber to slip into afterwards to aid their recovery.