NRL Clubs Say “They’re NOT Coming”


NRL CLUBS are set to block Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and Gareth Widdop from returning home to play for England in the inaugural Exiles clash.

A team of expat Australians and New Zealanders in Super League is to be assembled to take on Steve McNamara’s England at Headingley on June 10 in a replacement for the lopsided mid-season Test against France.

Wests Tigers’ Ellis has already expressed his desire to play in the historic match while South Sydney’s Burgess figures prominently in promotional material for the game, modelling the new England kit.

But Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson tells RLW: “He won’t be going. It’s not an international, it’s an invented game, a trumped-up game.

“The trip home to play France last year had a detrimental effect on Sam which he acknowledged. We agreed he would not go this year and he was part of that decision. The fact that this game is not even an international makes things easier.”

It’s understood the Bunnies have already sought clarification from the NRL, who told them the International Federation could not intervene because England were not taking on a another country and the match was more like an Origin game which uses domestic players.

The Exiles clash has been the subject of an elaborate advertising campaign over the last month, with cloaked figures and the words “They’re Coming” displayed on video scoreboards and during Sky TV coverage.

Ellis – out with an ankle injury – told The People newspaper at the weekend: “To be part of the first one would be fantastic for myself.

“It would be brilliant because it’s a great concept. Last year when we played against France I was quite lucky that the Tigers had a bye and didn’t play until the following Monday. That gave me time to get back, and I’m not sure I’ll drop on it as well this time. But it would be fantastic to be part of such a momentous game.

“I don’t know what will happen yet especially with being injured, so I’ll just have to wait and see.”

But Wests Tigers official Warren McDonnell said: “We play the Warriors and Newcastle at the time the game was on so I would say we would not be keen – although we won’t know for sure until we know the details.”

Widdop is shining at five-eighth after switching from fullback during the off-season. He said he did not know if England would recall players. Storm football manager Frank Ponissi knew nothing about the fixture when contacted by League Week.



  1. The NRL Clubs have this absolutely right.

    The England v Exiles games is much like, infact it’s inspired by the NRL All Stars game which is the best of the best in the NRL as voted by the fans…. and so should the England & Exils teams also should be the best of the best for the Super League voted by the fans.

    The super league version doesn’t seem to be doing the voting that i know of for either team, but it would be a good boost to the concept if both teams were voted for and instead of advertising it as England v Exils, why not Euro All Stars v Exils – that way they coudl have the best of England, Welsh, French v Exils. That would be an interesting concept and you’d include the french fans in the concept too.

  2. maybe we should just not play any international games and lets just pick an all stars team every where and keep it at that. rediculous idea and no wonder why rugby league international is a joke.

  3. The NRL Clubs have got it right.It’s a nothing game and a complete and utter waste of time.No need to release any players because of this pointless match which belittles International football.The poms are out of order.What’s wrong with a 6 Nations Competition featuring England,Ireland,Scotland,Wales,France and Italy.Surely that’s the way forward but the poms ain’t interested in expansion.
    And they want to tour “Down Under” in October/November in 2012 when it suits them and when everyone are Rugby Leagued out with I dare say a GB team that has been anoymous for years.The poms shouldn’t be dictating terms to us under any circumstances because they can’t play the game.Simple.Their whole attitude stinks and they’re taking the piss.Enough of their antics.
    The poms can go and stick it up their arse.

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