Tom Ascroft – Comparing The NRL To Super League, A British Fans Woes

Let me start by saying that I live in Great Britain, I watch and enjoy Super League, and support a Super League club. I also watch the NRL.

I’ll get straight to the point. I find drawing comparisons between the two leagues pointless, and grasping from a British point of view. It annoys me to no end when I hear phrases like “(insert club) would do well if they were in the NRL”, or the classic “(insert SL player) is the best (insert position) in the world”.

Statements like that are wrong. Flat out. We can take a prime example. Wigan won the double last year. Say what you like, but on paper they were the best Super League side. Just as on paper, the Sydney Roosters were the best NRL side. In the WCC, Wigan decided to take the trip over to Aus, which I honestly find commendable.

Wigan showed spirit but were outclassed. Thoroughly. Now before its said otherwise, I wanted to see Wigan win. I’m British, and prefer South Sydney in the NRL so a Wigan win would have delighted me, but it just wasn’t to be. Now we can be drawn into details, we can say that they weren’t 100%, whatever.

The final point is this. Wigan playing at 100% would never beat Roosters playing at 100%. Just as Leeds, Warrington, Hudds, Saints etc etc wouldn’t either. This is true, ask any pundit, expert or whoever. Any Super League club V any NRL club, both at 100% = NRL win, 10 times out of 10.

We could discuss why this is, but I don’t feel the need. The salary cap, the exposure, the quality of training staff and provisions, the list goes on as to why this is.

There was a comment made during the WCC, along the lines of “if Wigan had regular exposure to the NRL, they would get to that level”.

Now this I agree with. There are a few teams (not nearly enough) that if you could transplant to Australia, and give a few seasons and similar financial levels would do well.

But that isn’t going to happen. So why the comparisons? I mean, can people of Great Britain understand why Aussies give us stick when we make sweeping statements about our clubs being the same/better than NRL counterparts?

This is like Preston football club saying that they would do well in the Premier League with their current standing and player base. And that is how I see the situation. I love SL, I love watching my team. But it is a smaller, weaker, and ultimately lower class competition.

Is that too harsh? Sure, Leeds have won WCC before, and that counts for something right?

Wrong! Leeds won WCC matches in their eyes. NRL clubs lost team building warm ups on the arse end of Earth in crappy weather while jetlagged. That is how they see the WCC. A practice run, a trial game. You tell any NRL club that if they lose the WCC then they forfeit their premiership (thus making it worth something to them) they win that WCC.

Can readers honestly disagree with that?

And then we go on to talking about players. An example; Ryan Hall the Worlds Best Winger.

That is his tag. That is how he is viewed over here. That is how commentators over here refer to him, and I have a problem with it.

Again, understand I would love to have Super League players as the best in the world. But, how can you prove it? Ryan Hall is being compared to wingers like Tuivasa-Sheck and Morris and players of that calibre, but honestly, how is the comparison fair?

NRL wingers are playing against the best sides in the world. Every week. Ryan Hall is playing against good SL sides one week, then against teams like the London Broncos the next. How can you compare skills and careers like that? Again, this is like saying that Wayne Rooney (for example) is good, but the Blackpool striker is the best striker in the world, because he shows such skill and class each week.

Do people think those kind of comparisons are fair? How about this, what if say Brett Morris came over to Super League right now. Can Super League fans picture the amount of points he would score? How pathetic he would make certain teams’ defence look?

No, I’m sorry but in my eyes, you want to be viewed as the best in the world, you go play against the best in the world and see how you come out. That goes for all players. I like Sinfield, I think he is a solid Super League player, but the idea that in 2012 he was the best player in the world is ludicrous. You can’t compare what he does over here, to what say JT, or Cam Smith does over in the NRL.

This is true of all aspects of the game. If a prop here makes of an average of 100m every game, whereas a prop in the NRL is averaging 80m, the Super League player is not better. You can’t compare the stats fairly, because the defence in the NRL is superior to the Super League. That is it. You want to compare those props? Fine, get the NRL prop here, or get the Super League prop there. That’s the only real way.

The worst part about it is the fact that if the game could grow here, we could address the balance a little bit. I absolutely despair when I read comments from Brits saying things like “The Aussies should do more for the international game, or more to help Super League”.

Why should they? Sure a better international game is better for everyone but why should you help such self righteous moaning people who act way above their station? That is how I can imagine them seeing us sometimes.

On one hand we want your help and advice, but on the other we are better.

Yeah, I wonder why that approach doesn’t work.

I just despise the way we come across sometimes. It infuriates me. Super League chairman going over to Australia to try and convince them to expand the WCC.

I mean really? Do we need that sort of embarrassment? “Let’s have top 4 v top 4, it will be great”. It would be pitiful. If we want to compete with the NRL, we would do better focussing on getting a full competitive league over here first, with sound finances. As opposed to a handful of decent teams and a handful in administration.

I am sorry if this has seemed like a rant, I am just bored to death of seeing us make silly comments, the Aussies retorting and us spitting the dummy when they do.

In a nutshell: I don’t think we can compare aspects of Super League and NRL fairly, and we shouldn’t until the Super League is in a much better state.

Feel free to leave comments or email me at

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