Jack Reed is like a gift from the Rugby League Gods.
Reed is a 23 year old center for the Brisbane Broncos. This time last year, he didn’t think he had much of a career ahead of him as far as Rugby League went. Perseverance paid off though and today he is a top performer for the Broncos.
Reed was born in England, and as such, is eligible to play for England at test level. I know…feels weird talking about a player being eligible to play for the country he was born in for once huh?
Now, the RFL have made a few enquirers but the pressure is already being applied to Reed to turn his back on the country of his birth and commit himself, not to Australia, but just to Queensland.
Every so often we are seeing Queensland State Of origin greats with links to the Broncos coming out in the media and telling Reed what a great opportunity lies before him. How he could commit to the Queensland Emerging Origin Camp held over the off season and it could see him playing in a Maroon jersey soon.
I’ve even seen it said that he was probably a walk up start for Queensland in the centers, once Justin Hodges retires of course, which will probably happen in a few years time. Worth waiting for no doubt…
I’m a fan of Reeds, and as great as he has played this year, he is a level below State Of Origin, especially for Queensland. When you consider that incredible Rugby League players seem to grow on tree’s in Queensland, committing your future to the team on a “maybe one day” is a bit ridiculous if you ask me.
Never mind the fact that he is not a Queenslander, he’s a Pom! That has never stopped the Banana Benders though has it. They apply the same pressure to Kiwi’s and Pacific Islanders too. Hopefully one of the many messes in the game that the Independent Commission can sort out…
Center is a real problem area for England in the sense that, their centers in Super League face no where near the test that an NRL player does on a weekly basis. The center position is a make of break position defensively. They get all sorts of attacks thrown at them, and they have to make the decision of whether to push up, hang back, slide….it all rests of their shoulders.
At test level, English centers are all at sea when they face Australia and New Zealand. They see things they have simply never encountered and they are so far off the pace it is laughable. So to have Reed, a strong, in form center for the Broncos, available to them with no loop holes in sight, they have to do everything they possibly can to get him to commit his future to the country of his birth.
If I was involved with the English Rugby League team, how far would I go?
Well for starters, Reed would get a formal invite to join the English squad and a guaranteed start in the test team. I would invite him and his parents over on a RFL paid tour that would seem them as guests at any functions leading into the Four Nations.
I would have former players running the charm offensive. I would basically get him out of Brisbane, get him back to England, surround him with his fellow Poms, lay the English Test jersey out in front of him with his name on the back and say “Try walking away from that son”.
Once he commits and is on board, the job is done. However until that happens, the people involved in managing the England team should be going all out to get Reed on board.
I’ve said for a while now that the bulk of the English team would be made of of NRL players in the not to distant future. The rise in the salary cap and the incredible international flavour in the NRL competition will see to that.
Jack Reed and Gareth Widdop (who I believe is the best English player) in the game are just the start of a new breed of English players, born in England but raised in the Australian Rugby League environment.
You start an English test team with Reed, Widdop, Gareth Ellis and Sam and Luke Burgess and you find you are off to a decent start.
The Poms need to get on the front foot though, as the Queenslanders have him in their sights. If they lose Reeds to a “maybe” then you might find in the future, others will follow.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com