Over the last 20 years, when ever Great Britain or England have come to Australia to play a series or any kind, it has resulted in failure on an epic scale.
That their best tour in that time frame was coming third in a three team competitions, where one of the top two sides lost competition points for fielding an ineligible player, well, that says it all.
The 2008 World Cup was supposed to turn things around, but clearly showed that England are so far off the pace, especially when asked to perform away from home.
Now in 2010, and England will be touring once more for the Four Nations, playing off against Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Last years turnover of players was good for England, and they went some way to finding out things about the players they have, and the players they had to get rid of.
The likes of halves Kyle Eastmond and Sam Tomkins did enough to not be a disaster for England. You had Sam Burgess take another step up as he continues to improve, while youngsters like Fox, Bridge and Briscoe, sure they didn’t set the world on fire, but they are young, they have the best part of their careers ahead of them, and hey, they were different from the same old losers who we knew what to expect out of.
So England will be bringing a young side to Australia and New Zealand. A young side with a new coach, and it is looking like the RFL will appoint someone completely incapable to coaching at Test level.
Playing in the heat will be an issue many of the squad will have to come to terms with. Playing on the harder grounds we have here will also be something they will adapt to.
The media spotlight will be different, something many players will not expect, while their opponents, mainly Australia, will somehow be a 20 point better side at home.
I fully expect refereeing to be a bigger issue than every before in this years Four Nations.
We have been using two referee’s here for what will be two years by the time the competition kicks off. Having NRL referee’s control a game by themselves won’t be an issue, they are fit enough and have more than proven they are up to the task.
The big problem will be the English referee’s and the RFL’s insistence that the competition uses a New Zealand park football referee.
I think the biggest problem England will have is coaching though.
Tony Smith showed in 2008 he was completely unprepared from what England were to face in the World Cup. At the time he was considered the top coach in England.
This time around we will see, at best, a failed Super League club coach leading England, at worst, an assistant Rugby Union club coach!
So when England runs out in this years Four Nations, they will be totally unprepared for what they face, and thats just a disgrace.
Couple that with the different refereeing interpretations (See English officials being confused, New Zealand official just not being up to standard!), the different conditions, the bigger spotlights and a more comfortable opponent….
Like I said, it could very well be one of England’s greatest disasters.