Welcome To International State Of Origin!

There is something about playing for your state or your nation that you so special. The pride, the passion, the drama, the excitement….you just can’t manufacture that.

Oh wait, you can it seems!

Welcome to International Origin ladies and gentlemen, the Rugby Football Leagues latest bastard creation to try and save its slow decay to becoming an also ran on the international Rugby League scene.

The concept is simple…

You take the England team, and any Scottish, Welsh and Irish players the RFL also wants, then you put them up against the best imports in Super League.

This will give England, and any Scottish, Welsh and Irish players the RFL wants, a true test during the middle of their season rather than having them walk over some nothing opposition that they have no time or respect for, like France. This in turn will help England be ready for the Four Nations….which is played at the end of the year.

The Rugby Football League for many years have looked on as Australia and New Zealand played mid season test matches. They wanted to get in on the action, and did so in 2002.

Great Britain flew out to Australia and were beaten by the Kangaroo’s by a scoreline of 64-10, the biggest loss in the history of Rugby League in Great Britain.

After that, the RFL refused to take part in any more mid season internationals down under. It seems, while they wanted the mid season competition, they didn’t actually want the mid season competition.

Eventually the RFL settled into playing mid season test matches against France. France is still a developing nations however, and the RFL is far too important to have to deal with a developing nation. So they told France they were not required and came up with International Origin!

Here are the lineups for both teams:

1. Sam Tomkins
2. Tom Briscoe
3. Michael Shenton
4. Ryan Atkins
5. Ryan Hall
6. Kevin Sinfield
7. Richard Myler
8. Jamie Peacock (C)
9. Luke Robinson
10. James Graham
11. Ben Westwood
12. Joel Tomkins
13. Sean O’Loughlin

14. Eorl Crabtree
15. Gareth Carvell
16. Jamie Jones-Buchanan
17. Adrian Morley

18. Chris Bridge
19. Leroy Cudjoe
20. Michael McIlorum
21. Jon Wilkin 

Well its, ah, certainly a football team. Love that they needed to name so many players for a mid season game, after all, you don’t want to have to have a backup players travel all the way from Wakefield to fill in for an injured player.

I’m kind of shocked that they are still running poor old Jamie Peacock out. Naming him as captain is a kick in the face to last years stand in captain James Graham.

I can live with that actually.

The best part of this lineup is that, none of the best English players are actually in it!

Gareth Widdop, who is the best English player in the game, Jack Reeds, who is an up and coming first grader with the Brisbane Broncos who was born in Castleford, Gareth Ellis, who just didn’t want to go and Sam Burgess who was injured and who also didn’t want to head over anyway.

England four best players….kinda weird they aren’t in the team if this game is so important.

Then we have the Exiles squad. Now remember, fans were able to vote for who was in this side, but then coach Brian McLennan just picked who he wanted anyway.

Exiles Rugby League Team
1. Brett Hodgson
2. Francis Meli
3. Matt King
4. George Carmont
5. Pat Richards
6. Rangi Chase
7. Thomas Leuluai
8. Kylie Leuluai
9. Danny Buderus (C)
10. Mark O’Meley
11. Tony Puletua
12. David Fa’alogo
13. Craig Fitzgibbon

14. David Faiumu
15. Louis Anderson
16. Willie Manu
17. Glenn Morrison
18. Iosia Soliola 

Yeah, 2002 was awesome!

In promotional soundbites many of the players in this lineup have compared this game to State Of Origin. I’d suggest that is based largely on the fact that they have never played State Of Origin.

This is a team of whipping boys as far as the RFL is concerned. A bunch of old Aussies and Kiwi’s who’s job it is to give England a bit of resistance for 60 minutes or so, and then lose.

However, what happens if they win? Worse still, what happens if these old farts blow England and any Scottish, Welsh and Irish players the RFL want off the field?

Will we once again see the RFL kill a mid season game to try and preserve the false sense that Rugby League in England is no dying a very fast death?

What ever the case, get ready for a big match up. Just looking at the promotional material makes me pumped!

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