McNamara has just returned from an all expenses paid junket to travel around Australia to supposedly watch English players play. He said that the form of some players in Super League, many of whom he admits have been injured this season, is so good that no Australian based Englishmen are guaranteed a start at the World Cup.
What is Steve McNamara’s job?
I thought it was to coach England. I thought it was to selected the best English players available, no matter where they are playing, and do everything he possibly could to help England win the World Cup.
At the moment it seems like McNamara works in the marketing department for Super League clubs. He keeps talking up Super League players and talking down Australian based Englishmen. It’s not a good look.
England are extremely lucky in that over the last few years their best players have been developed by National Rugby League clubs. As I have pointed out many times, in this part of the world, where you come from is not important. All that matters is that you put in the effort and you perform on the football field.
In the Southern Hemisphere you rarely hear anyone described as an import. You don’t hear the term “World Class” EVER used. If you are playing in the National Rugby League, it doesn’t matter where you come from. All that matters is how you are playing RIGHT NOW. Just as Benji Marshall…
Meanwhile within English Rugby League circles there seems to be a concerning culture of jealousy that have evolved over the last few years. This isn’t even about England wanting to get one over Australia any more. Now we have England’s Rugby League coach openly saying that Australian based Englishman need to do MORE than their Super League counterparts to force their way into the England team.
It doesn’t make any sense…
The likes of Gareth Widdop, Jack Reed, James Graham, the Burgess brothers….they are English! Born and bred Englishmen! That they are achieving so much in the worlds best club competition against the worlds best players is fantastic for the England team.
These players are performing against the same players that England want to beat at the World Cup. So what is Steve McNamara’s problem?
Instead of embracing a core of very good playing who play at a very high level every single week, it seems as though the England Rugby League team set up treats these players like an inconvenience. It feels as though they wish they didn’t have to deal with these NRL based players.
What more do NRL based Englishmen need to prove to McNamara? They compete against Australia and New Zealand test players every week in the NRL. They perform on Rugby Leagues biggest stage.
Gareth Widdop is a premiership winning standoff for the best team in the world, the Melbourne Storm. The Burgess brothers form the nucleus of the best forward back in the NRL right now at the a south Sydney Rabbitohs. James Graham does well for the Canterbury Bulldogs off the best while Jack Reed is seen as one of the most reliable centres in the game at the Brisbane Broncos.
Does Steve McNamara really need to see these elite players, the best Englishmen in the game, play in front of 1,500 people in a 40 point blowout against Widnes, London, Castleford and the like to be impressed?
I can understand that the RFL NEEDS to see some knock on effect from the World Cup to flow into Super League. I understand that the World Cup is a very big, once in a decade opportunity for Super League to get some level of national attention.
There is no doubt the RFL and it’s commercial partners have been willing to jump the shark over the last 18 months to push Super League to the masses, but at what cost to the games credibility?
Having the national coach pushing double standards upon England’s elite players is a terrible message. English fans don’t buy into the RFL’s agendas so you have to ask yourself, who are they doing this for? That this is happening at all must concern every English Rugby League supporter.
When your national coach isn’t completely focused on winning games, something is wrong. I can tell you right now that Tim Sheens and Stephen Kearney don’t care about anything else other than winning the World Cup.
The last thing the England Rugby League team needs is a lack of focus at the top. The last thing they need is the coach telling their very best players that he doesn’t rate them heading into the World Cup.