TRAVELS: XV

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD

ROYCE Simmons is worried about British game and thinks it’s time the Australian Rugby League Commission puts its hands in its pockets.

Royce and your correspondent discussed this informally before we spoke on the record, and the former Hull and St Helens coach called friends in England in the meantime to make sure what he had to say was not going to be taken the wrong way.

That is: he didn’t want to look like a big noting Aussie telling the English how to run their game.

“I was lucky enough to go to England on a Kangaroo Tour and the crowds over there really opened my eyes with the singing and all their passion,” says Roycie.

“Since then I got to coach Hull and I got to coach Saints and I really like everything about English rugby league and think the world of the players, fans and administrators. Nothing can replace the enjoyment they’ve given me.”

But Simmons says the financial pressures being borne by clubs and the player drain to the NRL are big causes for concern.

“When you look at all the players going to the NRL, at first I think there will be some benefit,” he said.

“But after 24 months, I think you’ll see the damage caused by the drain will become too strong. If they take too many players, the Super League will really suffer.

“We’re finally starting to develop our game in new countries and it would be a real shame if we got to the point where there were fears one of our only two professional competitions would fall over.”

Simmons said he wasn’t sure what could be done but officials in Australia needed to start talking about helping the British game as one of its priorities.

“I get the impression at the moment that Australia does their thing, England does theirs’ and New Zealand does theirs’,” he said.

“There is no-one looking at strategy for the whole of the game.

“If they’re having tough times in England now, it’s up to us to help them. The NRL has just had a big infusion of cash, maybe they could invest in the English game or maybe some of our successful clubs could.

“I’d also like to see players shared around a lot more, with youngsters loaned in either direction. Living away from home can help a rugby league player grow up.

“I just think we need to do more. There are smarter blokes than me who can figure out what.”

Simmons is currently assistant coach at Wests Tigers and hasn’t ruled out being a head coach again. “I don’t want to be sticking my nose in where it’s not wanted but I thought it was important to raise this as an issue,” he said.

Has Roycie got a point, dear reader? Or are we being patronising again? Would you like the NRL to invest in the English game? I know what you think of dual registration with Aussie clubs..

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THANKS for the comments on last week’s column, which was basically about the Crusaders’ debts.

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