EVER since Great Britain played its last Test – a 28-22 win over New Zealand at Wigan in 2007 – there has been a growing push for a return to Lions tours. And from what Discord has been told over the last couple of days, someone is finally listening.
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood touched down in Sydney on Monday afternoon and went straight to Campbelltown Stadium to see Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington in action for Wests Tigers. On Tuesday, he attended a meeting at Rugby League Central to discuss the direction of international football.
Nigel declined to be interviewed when Discord ran into him at Campbelltown but we hear he is over the Four Nations concept and wants a tour at the end of 2014, with eight games including Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific All Stars.
Unfortunately, the clubs want to play the expanded World Club Challenge in Qatar, Dubai, Las Vegas or where-ever at the same time.
The big issue, as we see it, is the fact the proposed tour would still be in the name of England and not Great Britain. “Dividing up the home nations” since 2007 has not been dividing at all – it’s been a case of chasing Sport England funding by calling one team England, and that team plundering Scotland, Ireland and Wales for talent.
“England” has been bad for international rugby league, robbing Scotland, Ireland and Wales of players like Danny Brough, Michael McIllorum and Rhys Evans. It’s a similar situation to Origin and what it has done to the Pacific nations including New Zealand.
The NRL clubs are already telling Super League how to distribute their own WCC prizemoney if they want the expanded concept to happen. They should tell Nigel to bring out Great Britain – not England – in 2014 or stay home.
We also have it on very good authority the RFL has seriously discussed our suggestion (well, not in this column but two others written by the same hack) that one of the England-Exiles games be played in London, on Anzac Day. Next year there is likely to be only one England-Exiles match – the “away” game against a stadium full of drunken antipodeans may have to wait until 2014.
COLUMNS like this frequently bag rugby league officials for not showing leadership but the NRL deserves credit this week for standing up to the super coaches, Wayne Bennett and Des Hasler.